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Initial Thoughts on President Obama’s Immigration Speech

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Obama in El Paso giving immigration speechThis afternoon President Obama delivered a speech on the need for immigration reform in El Paso, Texas.  Here are a few thoughts on today’s speech by Frank Sharry, our Executive Director:

First, the speech by President Obama today was strong, the efforts by his Administration to create momentum for reform are welcome, and his leadership aimed at teeing up a long overdue legislative breakthrough is essential.

Second, I want to take issue with the conventional wisdom regarding this speech.  Many in the political class believe that it was a campaign-oriented speech aimed at showing Latino voters he cares in the run up to 2012.  I disagree.  I believe it is a sincere effort to build support, attract unusual allies and create political space for an eventual legislative breakthrough.  Yes, it will be very difficult to achieve that breakthrough in this Congress – especially in light of the lurch to the right by Republicans in Congress on this issue and the resulting obstructionism on immigration reform.  But even if Republicans continue to block reform this Congress, the President’s efforts are exactly what is needed to achieve an eventual breakthrough in 2013 or beyond.  He is leaning into this debate and engaging the nation in a discussion that promises to move public opinion and mobilize key constituencies from across the political spectrum.