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President Confirms Immigration Reform Priority as Schumer Panel Explores Way Forward on Immigration

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obamaAt last night’s White House press conference, President Obama again re-affirmed his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, citing the need to fix our very broken immigration system. As CNN reports, in “Obama pushes for immigration reform:”

President Barack Obama on Wednesday said he wants to work with members of Congress, including former Republican presidential rival Sen. John McCain, to revive efforts at immigration reform.

“We want to move this process,” Obama said at a news conference on his 100th day in office. “We can’t continue with a broken immigration system. It’s not good for anybody.”

Obama said he hopes a working group of lawmakers will begin crafting details of what would be in reform legislation and that he expects the process to be under way within the year.

Well, today, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security, and Citizenship will hold a hearing entitled: “Comprehensive Immigration Reform in 2009, Can We Do It and How?”  The hearing is the kickoff of the immigration debate in the 111th Congress and shows continued momentum toward movement on real immigration reform this year.

Under the leadership of the Subcommittee’s Chairman, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Subcommittee will hear from an array of prominent witnesses who will share their perspectives on the urgent need for comprehensive immigration reform.  Witnesses will include former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan; Montgomery County, MD Police Chief Thomas Manger; evangelical Pastor Joel Hunter of the Northland Church in Central Florida; Eliseo Medina, International Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Wade Henderson, President and CEO of  the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights(LCCR); and Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow at the Migration Policy Institute and former Commissioner of the US Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

At the request of Ranking Member Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), the panel will also hear from a business representative who supports comprehensive immigration reform, Jeff Moseley, President and CEO of the Greater Houston Partnership, as well as the notoriously anti-immigrant Kris Kobach, who works with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).  FAIR has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

Cornyn’s choice of witnesses reflects the schism in the Republican Party between moderate voices of reason and anti-immigrant extremists.  While the 2008 election results should have delivered a final death blow to the Republican immigration wedge strategy, many in the GOP continue to cling to the mass-deportation approach. 

Meanwhile, new national polling numbers show that the American people strongly support comprehensive immigration reform and expect President Obama to follow through on his campaign promise to address the issue. 

We’ll be live-blogging today’s hearing right here at www.AmericasVoiceOnline.org/Blog, starting at 2 pm EST.