While in Mexico City today, President Obama reiterated the need for a new immigration debate focused on solutions, rather than more divisive “politics as usual.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (pictured here) echoed the President’s comments, also saying that any immigration reform legislation will need to have supporters from both parties and that the President is committed to addressing immigration, despite its divisive past:
MR. GIBBS: Right. I’d repeat also what I said, I think either — I think it was last week, off of reports about it, that this is a process that will likely start and has started this year. But I think we’re under no illusions that this is an issue that will get solved or finished this year
Q I wanted to ask you about immigration again. Yesterday some of the anti-tax rallies had three strong anti-immigrant (inaudible). And I just wondered if there was anything firm about the tone of the demonstrations (inaudible) White House, particularly worried that taking up such a divisive issue is counter-productive –
MR. GIBBS: Well, I think — and I’ve obviously talked about this, and I think the President has, too — this is not an — we know this is not an easy issue. I think he spoke in some ways about that today. But I think the President also understands that a number of the issues that he deals with, in some way, shape or form, are divisive. But that doesn’t alleviate our obligations to deal with them.
I think we understand that in order to get immigration reform through Congress and to the President’s desk, it’s going to take a healthy bipartisan majority. It’s going to take votes from both sides of the aisle. And I don’t anticipate that it will happen until there is some agreement to that.
While being candid that immigration reform won’t come easy, or even be fully resolved this year, Gibbs’ argument is in line with recent statements by the President that point toward the White House taking up immigration reform this year. If there was any doubt that the politics of immigration have shifted, one need only look to the recent front-page New York Times articles on pending immigration reform.