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President Obama Steps Up and Speaks Up for Immigration Reform

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With Republicans Blocking Comprehensive Reform, Some Recommended Next Steps for the Administration and Congress

Washington, DC – In today’s major address at American University, President Obama made a compelling case for why Congress needs to enact bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform, why the Arizona immigration law is the wrong response to growing frustration with inaction in Washington, and why the only way comprehensive reform can be enacted is if Republicans join with Democrats to solve this problem once and for all. 

According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The President’s speech was terrific.  He has engaged the country in a long overdue debate, and made the choice clear: We either enact a comprehensive solution that is both practical and humane, or we end up with odious state-by-state laws such as the ‘show me your papers’ Arizona law.  Now it’s up to Republicans.  They can either retreat behind empty sound bites and tortured defenses of the radical Arizona law, or they can step up and support what many in the GOP used to support – a comprehensive bill that ends illegal immigration.”

Given the hostile reaction by leading Republicans to the President’s speech, a bipartisan breakthrough in the coming weeks on comprehensive reform seems unlikely.  This is unfortunate, for experts and constituencies from across the political spectrum have rightly concluded that such an approach is the only way to truly solve the problem of illegal immigration.  From big city mayors, like Michael Bloomberg of New York City and Michael Nutter of Philadelphia, to major city police chiefs, like Chief Chris Burbank of Salt Lake City, UT and Chief Jack Harris of Phoenix, AZ;  from conservative evangelical leaders, like Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention and Leith Anderson of the National Association of Evangelicals, to civil rights leaders like Rev. Al Sharpton and Janet Murguia of NCLR, the support for a sensible immigration solution crosses traditional divisions and constituencies and was on full display at today’s event.

But the Republican obstructionism to a comprehensive solution need not deter the Obama Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress. 

Added Sharry, “Despite Republican obstructionism on comprehensive reform, the Administration and Congress can take a number of steps in the coming weeks that will move the nation in the right direction.  First, the Department of Justice should sue the state of Arizona to stop this un-American and unconstitutional law.  Second, the Department of Homeland Security should re-focus its enforcement activities on the ‘worst of the worst’ and leave college kids, ordinary workers, and close knit families alone.  Third, Congress should pass targeted measures such as the DREAM Act and AgJOBS, measures that enjoy bipartisan support and would serve as stepping stones toward broader reform.  These three steps would build on the President’s speech and turn his call to action into concrete initial steps.”

America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.