Obama pushes House Republicans on immigration

WASHINGTON Wed Jul 10, 2013 6:53pm EDT

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (L) host the second annual ''Kids' State Dinner'', to honor the winners of a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches, at the White House in Washington July 9, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama (L) host the second annual ''Kids' State Dinner'', to honor the winners of a nationwide recipe challenge to promote healthy lunches, at the White House in Washington July 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama jumped into the immigration debate on Wednesday by releasing a report touting economic benefits from reforms and meeting with Hispanic lawmakers, as Republican lawmakers gathered to try to craft their response.

The release of the White House report signaled a new engagement by Obama, who has made immigration a top legislative priority but stayed on the sidelines of the debate that raged in the Senate in May and June.

The report said passing reforms would expand the economy 3.3 percent by 2023 and reduce the federal deficit by almost $850 billion over 20 years.

Obama also met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as he launches an offensive to pressure hesitant Republicans in the House of Representatives to act on comprehensive immigration legislation this year.

"He said he was open to do anything we thought in Congress would be helpful," Democratic Representative Xavier Becerra said following the White House meeting.

Meanwhile, House Speaker John Boehner invited all 233 of his fellow House Republicans to a two-hour meeting to discuss the bipartisan Senate bill to give legal status to around 11 million undocumented residents and eventually allow them to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The Democratic-led Senate passed the sweeping immigration bill at the end of June. But the legislation's fate is unclear in the Republican-controlled House.

Immigration advocacy groups said they hoped the meeting would bring clarity on whether enough House Republicans want to try to pass some sort of bipartisan bill this year.

Boehner is likely to have a tough time convincing conservatives that the Senate approach is anything other than amnesty for people who have broken the law after entering the United States illegally or overstaying their visas.

Senator Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republican who helped write the Senate-passed bill and served 12 years in the House, told Reuters: "It's hard not to be discouraged right now."

A House aide said Republicans must decide whether a narrow immigration bill should be put to a vote by the full House before the August recess, when lawmakers will be home and facing their constituents.

Such bills could deal with border security, identifying and punishing those here illegally or helping U.S. high-tech firms hire more skilled labor from abroad.

The Senate bill calls for tough security measures with $46 billion in spending over 10 years to put 20,000 more agents at the U.S. border with Mexico and buy high-tech surveillance equipment.

Nevertheless, only 14 of the Senate's 46 Republicans voted for the bill and many House Republicans complain that the 11 million illegal residents would be mainstreamed into American society before the border is fully secured.

Last November's presidential election, in which Obama captured more than 70 percent of the growing Hispanic vote, was a wake-up call to Republicans that their party must do more to appeal to minorities.

Former President George W. Bush, who failed to win passage of a comprehensive immigration bill when he was in office, on Wednesday said that he hoped there would be a "positive resolution" to Congress' immigration debate

Speaking in Dallas at a naturalization ceremony, the two-term Republican president said, "We have a problem. The laws governing the immigration system aren't working. ... The system is broken."


The call for comprehensive reform resonates with some Republican senators, who have to run in statewide elections, and with some prospective Republican presidential candidates.

But it holds less appeal to House Republicans, many of who fear conservative Tea Party challenges if they back a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million, a core demand of Obama and his fellow Democrats.

According to a recent study by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which tracks congressional races, only 24 of the 234 House Republicans represent districts that are more than 25 percent Hispanic.

David Wasserman, who conducted the Cook study, said most House Republicans believe they could defeat a Democratic challenger in the general election.

But "they don't know if they will face a Republican primary challenge if they vote for an immigration bill backed by the president," Wasserman said.

For many House Republicans, support for a comprehensive bill with the pathway to citizenship is tepid at best.

Passing such legislation is "not urgent," said Representative James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of the House Republican leadership team.

"If we run out of time at the end of the year, I don't think we push it. This is a problem that has festered for decades," he added.

(Writing by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Caren Bohan in Washington and Lisa Maria Garza in Dallas; Editing by Vicki Allen and Xavier Briand)

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Comments (19)
USAPragmatist wrote:
Reuters does the weirdest things with their articles, there is a duplicate article with an already ‘mature’ comment thread here…http://www.reuters.com/article/comments/idUSBRE96908Z20130710

Jul 10, 2013 1:19pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Americans must stick together.

American agricultural workers got hit first by immigration, way back in the 1980′s. They were wiped out, their careers destroyed, by immigrant “guest workers” from Mexico and Jamaica.

Then American construction worker, roofers, drywallers, painters, landscapers started getting displaced by immigrant labor in the 1990′s and especially in the years around 2000-2005.

American engineers and tech-workers started seeing their careers destroyed in about the year 2000, when the H1B Visa started really flooding in Indian immigrants to displace the Americans.

The lesson? Working Americans must learn to stick together. We should have all protested when the American agricultural workers were destroyed.

We engineers should have spoken out when the American carpenters, roofers and landscapers were destroyed by immigration.

We all need to stick together, because big business is picking us off one by one.

All though I am an engineer, I now stand up, belatedly, for the American agricultural worker, but too late.

Obama spent his childhood in Indonesia. Obama cares most of all for big-money globalist plutocrats. Their phone calls he takes.

Obama stabs the American middle class worker in the back. He stabs the American black worker in the back. He stabs the American engineer in the back. But the foreigner he loves and cherishes.

Obama should not be president of America.

Jul 10, 2013 1:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
AdamSmith wrote:
Big capital has much to gain by immigration, because immigration certainly depresses wage rates and increases rents and profits of big capital. That simple fact is disputed by nobody.

I’ll say it again, big money has much to gain by immigration.

Washington DC is home to the world’s largest and most advanced public relations firms, and their clients are big money. The corruption quotient of their profession is very high.

This article is typical of the type of article seeded into the media by those public relations firms. This is their bread and butter.

But the American middle class worker knows something that he observes on his own:
Immigration is destroying the American middle class.

Look at the rest of the world.

Immigration is destroying modern England, too. England, too, has dropped its defenses. England too, has no immunity to invasion by immigration.

Japan is smarter. Japan was an unpopulated group of islands until its first human inhabitants arrived from China.

Quite striking, of course, is the fact than Japan rose to prominence among human cultures because it was, like England of old, an island nation, and compared to other countries, Japan had almost zero later immigration. And today, Japan strictly prevents immigration.

Japan, the land of the gods, grew an astonishingly strong culture, admired around the world, because it was not constantly disturbed by immigrations.

The exact opposite of Japan is India, which has constantly, throughout its history, been disturbed by immigrations. Including its immigrants, India today has a population of 1.17 billion people, compared to Japan’s 128 million.

India has had immigration after immigration from every direction. It is made up of Hindus, Moslems, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, and Jains, just to start.

India, the land made of immigrants, has literally dozens of languages, and great corruption. Everybody speaking a different language, worshiping a different god, fighting with each other. The birth rate? Extremely high.

Yet Japan, with a population only one-tenth the size of India’s, has a GDP 4 times as big as India.

Japan, the densely populated island nation, protected from immigrations, is a cohesive culture, very high economic production, high per-capita incomes and wages, and the lowest crime rate in the world.

So America should ask itself, do we want to remain a strong culture, like Japan, or do we want to allow immigrations from all directions, and end up like India, with low wages, corruption, extreme poverty and chaos?

Jul 10, 2013 1:29pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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