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Wonk Room: Gibbs Says Obama’s Immigration Position Hasn’t Changed

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Andrea Nill reports at the Wonk Room on White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ statements yesterday evening, responding to growing criticism that President Obama did not say enough about immigration during his State of the Union address last week. Here is the video of Gibbs’ comments:

GIBBS: I think the President’s position on immigration reform and what he supports is enormously clear. He campaigned on it, he worked on legislation I think is quite similar to what would come up this year in the House or the Senate with people like John McCain or Lindsey Graham in 2005 and 2006 in the Senate. Like climate change there are bipartisan efforts that are ongoing to bring legislation like this to the fore and to create bipartisan majorities to get it passed. The president hosted a meeting here not too long ago to keep that process going and we look forward to taking part in it.

Nill argues that it is more crucial than ever to emphasize the economic merits of reform, with a bipartisan group in Congress slated to move it forward :

According to Gibbs, the question isn’t whether President Obama still supports passing comprehensive immigration reform, but rather, whether the White House can be convinced that there is enough bipartisan support to get it passed. A recent affirmative statement from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) indicates that at least one key GOP member is reaching out to his colleagues and encouraging them to embrace the immigration issue. Meanwhile, the majority of Republican and Independent voters already support comprehensive immigration reform.

Ultimately, immigration has always come at the end of a long list of priorities and promises that President Obama optimistically pledged would be realized within his first couple years in office. Immigration advocates who would like to see the issue addressed in 2010 have already pointed out that immigration reform has become “low-hanging fruit” on a legislative tree that has fewer and fewer branches. Yet it’s perhaps even more critical to emphasize how immigration would fit into Obama’s broader policy agenda in terms of creating jobs, growing the Democratic Party, minimizing losses in 2010, and removing an obstructive wedge that has plagued American politics for decades.

Blogger Duke at The Sanctuary argues the pure political merits of passing reform now: