Obama pitches immigration reform

By Sara Wyant
 
© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



EL PASO, TX, May 11 - With beefed up security along the U.S. Mexico border, President Barack Obama made the case Tuesday for Congress to overhaul the U.S. immigrations system.  He said that immigration reform would be a good way to boost the U.S. economy, support middle class taxpayers, and fix the vexing problems facing farm employers who rely heavily on temporary workers.

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“We need to provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status,” said Obama. “And our laws should respect families following the rules -- reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart.”

For example, he cited José Hernández, the son of migrant farm workers who grew up to be an engineer and astronaut. Hernández was born in California, but two of his siblings were born in Mexico because his family moved around with seasonal work.

But beyond outlining the importance of immigration reform and promoting results gained in border security, Obama cited few specifics about what any future legislation should include or any type of timetable. He said comprehensive reform should include:

• The government's responsibility to secure our borders and enforce the law,
• Holding  businesses accountable if they exploit undocumented workers,
• A responsibility for illegal immigrants to pay their taxes, pay a fine, learn English, undergo background checks and a lengthy process before they get in line for legalization.
• Reforms to make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. 

“There is already a growing coalition of leaders across America who don't always see eye-to-eye, but are coming together on this issue,” Obama said during his speech  “They see the harmful consequences of a broken immigration system for their businesses and for their communities, and they understand why we need to act.”

He called for those who support his proposals to build pressure for congressional action from outside of traditional Washington circles. However, most political analysts say the prospects for immigration reform are between slim and none in the 112th Congress. The President's speech was widely viewed as a way to court crucial Hispanic voters prior to his 2012 re-election bid.

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