Obama to tread carefully in immigration debate

9f95c3088468ee035e91ef0a71c93c7a

President Barack Obama will wade cautiously into the debate over U.S. immigration reform on Tuesday, seeking to build momentum for a new bipartisan plan to offer a pathway to citizenship for the country’s 11 million illegal immigrants.

Reflecting the growing clout of Hispanic voters, Obama will travel to Nevada little more than a week after his second inauguration and make the case for swift action by Congress to overhaul immigration laws.

Immigration reform could give Obama a landmark second-term legislative achievement, but he is expected to tread carefully in a speech in Las Vegas, just a day after a group of influential Senate Democrats and Republicans laid out a broad plan of their own.

Obama’s challenge is to help build public support for the senators’ framework, which is in line with many of his main ideas for a sweeping immigration overhaul, while not alienating his fiercest Republican foes who might resist anything with the Democratic president’s name on it.

While Obama is likely to use the bully pulpit of the presidency, backed up by a White House-organized grass-roots campaign, he will likely be more circumspect for now about how personally involved he becomes in congressional negotiations.

“The minute it becomes Obama’s plan, the Republicans kick automatically into opposition,” said Bill Schneider, a political scientist at George Mason University in Virginia. “The White House knows to back off for now.”

Scheduled to speak at a Las Vegas high school at 11:15 a.m. PST, Obama does not intend to unveil legislation of his own. He will instead urge lawmakers to press ahead with their efforts even as he restates the “blueprint” for reform he rolled out in 2011, which called for an “earned” path to citizenship, administration officials said.

The flurry of activity marks the first substantive drive in years to forge an agreement on fixing America’s flawed immigration system. Though the debate is likely to be contentious there is a growing consensus in Washington that the conditions are finally ripe for tackling the problem.

Obama and his fellow Democrats see their commitment to immigration reform as a way to solidify their hold on the growing Latino vote, which they won handily in the 2012 election. Nevada, for example, has a fast-growing Hispanic population that helped Obama carry the state in the November election.

Many Republicans, worried that their party has alienated Hispanics with anti-immigrant rhetoric, are suddenly open to cooperation on the issue as they seek to set a new tone.

DEVIL IN THE DETAILS?

The eight-member Senate group includes John McCain, a Republican from the border state of Arizona; Charles Schumer, a centrist Democrat from New York; and Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American favorite of the Tea Party movement who has helped garner support from influential conservatives.

Translating the aspirations expressed by the group into an inevitably lengthy and complicated bill will itself be a major challenge in Congress. At the same time, the White House wants to see further details before Obama will fully embrace the senators’ approach.

In an attempt to build support, the Senate proposal would couple immigration reform with enhanced border security efforts aimed at preventing illegal immigration and ensuring that those foreigners temporarily in the United States return home when their visas expire.

Under the proposal, undocumented immigrants would be allowed to register with the government, pay a fine, and then be given probationary legal status allowing them to work.

Ultimately, these immigrants would have to “go to the end of the line” and apply for permanent status. But while waiting to qualify for citizenship, they would no longer face the fear of deportation or harassment from law enforcers if they have steered clear of illegal activity.

Obama’s aides consider it a breakthrough that Republican members of the bipartisan group of senators have agreed to a path to citizenship, a concept that many in their party have long opposed as tantamount to amnesty for law-breakers.

The White House remains wary, however. The president’s aides have written up extensive legislative language for an immigration overhaul and will step in with their own formal proposals if the Senate effort falls apart, an administration official said.

Immigration reform, sidelined by economic issues and healthcare reform during Obama’s first term, is part of an ambitious liberal agenda he laid out in his second inaugural address. That agenda also includes gun control, gay rights and fighting climate change.

Last summer, Obama took executive action so that the federal government stopped seeking to deport illegal immigrants who had arrived in the United States as children – a dramatic change that was celebrated in the Hispanic community.

After winning the bitterly fought election, Obama promised to tackle the issue comprehensively early in his new term.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
News

Ditka calls Redskins team name critics 'politically correct…

Mike Ditka, the 74-year-old 11-season coach of the Chicago Bears and 3-season coach of the New Orleans Saints, may be endangering his position as an…

National

US military tried, but failed to rescue journalist…

The U.S. military earlier this year tried to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria ,but failed to find the captives.

National

Fate of captured beluga whales in hands of…

A Georgia aquarium went to court on Wednesday seeking federal permission to bring 18 captured beluga whales to the United States from Russia.

Local

After Eric Garner death, religious leaders meet to…

Interfaith leaders convened with city officials to discuss what the community can do to help dial down heightened tensions after Eric Garner's death.

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 21: 'Simpsons,' 'Simpsons'…

It's time to change the channel to FXX, and then never change it again, as you watch all the "Simpsons" episodes you can handle.

Television

'MasterChef' open tryouts are coming to NYC

Home cooks, sharpen your knives. Tryouts are coming for the sixth season of the reality show that challenges ordinary chefs to rise to restaurant standards.…

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

NFL

Jalen Saunders still unsure what caused car accident…

Jets rookie wide receiver Jalen Saunders spoke to the media Wednesday for the first time since his car accident, but he didn't say a whole lot.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL defense (DEF)

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Wellbeing

Metabolic syndrome could have a sugar link

Scientists in St. Louis may have found another culprit in metabolic syndrome, which can lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Uric acid is…

Wellbeing

Another way stress hurts your unborn baby

Mothers know to try staying calm during pregnancy, as stress has been linked to behavioral and developmental problems for their babies. But now, a new…