President Obama may have been 3,000 miles away from Washington this week, wrapping up a 3-day visit to the West Coast today, but the topic of immigration has been following him everywhere he goes.
One day after he summoned stakeholders to the White House to discuss immigration reform, the President was asked to rehash the subject at a Facebook town hall in Palo Alto. “In light of our nation’s budget challenges,” two students in Florida asked, “will your administration consider revisiting policies such as the DREAM Act, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will reduce the deficit by $1.4 billion and increase the government revenue by $2.3 billion over the next 10 years?”
The president’s response:
The truth of the matter is that we are both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. Sometimes the laws haven’t been fair. […]
The Democratic caucus in the House — a majority of them are prepared to advance comprehensive immigration reform. But we’re going to have to have bipartisan support in order to make it happen. And all of you have to make sure your voices are heard, saying this is a priority, this is something important — because if politicians don’t hear from you, then it probably won’t happen. I can’t do it by myself. We’re going to have to change the laws in Congress, but I’m confident we can make it happen.
Just before the end of the session, Obama brought the subject up again, this time in response to a question about things he wished he could’ve done differently during his presidency:
I think the best way to answer the question is what do I feel I still have to get done, where I still feel a huge sense of urgency…Immigration — something I mentioned — we have not gotten done. It’s something I care deeply about. It’s the right thing for the country. I want to get that done while I’m President.
The president has so far refused to get specific, punting in favor of a legislative solution despite the reality of an entrenched Republican opposition. When White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked about the Tuesday immigration meeting, and whether that event was just “checking a box,” he declined to elaborate on the president’s plans:
I’m not going to lay out what our strategy is on how to move from here to there. But be assured that he’s committed to this. We are taking steps, and yesterday’s meeting was one of those steps.