The drive to pass comprehensive immigration reform went into high gear yesterday when President Obama said he expects a bill will be introduced by January. The comments at the President’s first press conference since his re-election come amid a flurry of bipartisan support for an immigration overhaul.
“My expectation is that we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration,” he said, adding that he is “very confident that we can get immigration reform done.”
Last week and over the weekend, a number of leading Republicans in Congress said they were ready to support an immigration reform bill. Last Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner told ABC’s Diane Sawyer, “This issue has been around far too long.” And on Sunday, South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham told CBS’s “Face the Nation,” that the GOP’s approach to immigration has “has built a wall between the Republican Party and Hispanic community.”
In addition to a path to citizenship for some undocumented immigrants, Republicans and President Obama agree that any immigration reform package must include additional immigration enforcement on the border and require those applying for papers to learn English and pay penalties. It would also impose penalties on companies that hire undocumented workers.
Obama added that a immigration reform bill would provide protections for young undocumented immigrations who entered the country as children.
Many immigration reform advocates say that while they expect the President and Congress to pass an immigration reform bill, they’ll also continue to push the president to halt deportations. Obama’s immigration agency has deported nearly 400,000 people in each of the last four years, more than any previous administration.