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Washington, DC – While some pundits are preparing to declare comprehensive immigration reform dead for this year, the fact is that plans to move forward on immigration reform are still very much in motion. Though President Obama’s State of the Union address gave only a brief mention of his support for fixing the broken immigration system – a missed opportunity that disappointed many Latino immigrants and their advocates – Congressional leaders and a prominent White House advisor yesterday reaffirmed that immigration reform is a priority for both Congress and the President.
“We still expect Congress to move forward on immigration reform this year,” said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice. “As affirmed by the Senate leadership yesterday, the work on Capitol Hill continues. Despite our disappointment over the President’s too-brief mention of immigration reform in the State of the Union Address, and despite the panic set off among Democrats following the Massachusetts special election, we believe that once the dust settles immigration reform will make a comeback this year. Immigration has more potential to be bipartisan than almost any other issue on the legislative agenda, and it’s an issue that appeals to independent voters who want pragmatic solutions and Latino voters who want respect.”
During a news conference held by Senate Democratic leaders yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees and Border Security, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) both made clear their unequivocal support for comprehensive immigration reform and outlined their efforts to move forward with a legislative solution this year. Sen. Reid (D-NV) disagreed with critiques that the State of the Union remarks dimmed the prospects for immigration reform, saying, “The President, I don’t think, dropped the ball. He talked about immigration reform last night. He has spoken with us about immigration reform. It is something we need to do… It is something we’re committed to do. And we’ll do it as soon as we can.” Said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who is leading efforts to develop reform legislation: “We are making good progress.” He noted the bi-partisan nature of his approach, saying, “I’ve said all along, even before last Tuesday with the Massachusetts election, that we have to have this bill be a bipartisan bill, two Democrats, two Republicans to introduce it. We’re not there yet. We’re still working on getting our Republicans. But we’re talking to people . . . who have a lot of interest and enthusiasm. And our intention is to move forward.”
Also yesterday, in interviews with Spanish media outlets, White House advisor Valerie Jarrett made clear the Obama Administration’s intention to back comprehensive immigration reform. Among Jarrett’s favorable comments regarding the prospects of reform: Immigration “won’t fall by the wayside (just) because our top priority is creating jobs. We can do several things at once.” President Obama remains “absolutely determined” to pass reform, and, “We have to make sure to educate the public so they realize this isn’t just an issue that affects Latinos, it’s an issue that affects all Americans, it’s good for the country and for creating jobs.”
“The American people are looking for bipartisan solutions to the big and persistent problems of our time, like immigration reform,” said Frank Sharry. “Support for comprehensive immigration reform cuts across party lines, will benefit our economic recovery by generating billions in new tax revenues, helping American workers and honest employers, and will replace the chaos of the status quo with a functional approach that restores the rule of law.”