US President Barack Obama plans to launch his second-term push for a US immigration overhaul during a visit to Nevada this week and will make it a high ºpriority to win congressional approval of a reform package this year, the White House said.
Obama, who met leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, intends to use his trip to Las Vegas on Tuesday to redouble our efforts to make comprehensive immigration reform a reality, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.
He said Obama's proposals would be based on a blueprint the president put forth in a 2011 policy speech he delivered near the US-Mexico border. The administration never put much effort into turning that plan, which included a controversial path to earned citizenship, into legislation.
Immigration reform, largely sidelined by economic issues in Obama's first term, is part of an ambitious liberal agenda he laid out in his second inaugural address, which also includes gun control, gay rights and fighting climate change.
The chances of a bipartisan agreement to revamp the US immigration system are looking brighter despite the strong political passions that surround the issue.
Obama wants a deal and so do many Republicans in Congress, after having seen Hispanics vote overwhelmingly for the president and his fellow Democrats in the Nov. 6 election.
Some political analysts have said Republicans must seize the chance to help achieve immigration reform or else forfeit the chance of gaining significant Latino electoral support for a generation or more.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican often mentioned as a future presidential contender, has begun drawing up his own set of proposals he hopes can appeal to conservatives. The White House has voiced interest in hearing more about his ideas.
Rubio has proposed giving illegal residents a way to earn a working permit and then one day citizenship, but they would have to wait behind legal immigrants.
This week a bipartisan group of senators could announce a set of principles for immigration reform consistent with what Rubio has been advocating, according to a Senate aide.
We are encouraged by efforts under way in Congress to move forward on this issue, to address it in a bipartisan way, Carney told reporters. It is certainly a top legislative priority for the president.
Carney said Obama would use his event in Las Vegas to push the broad proposals he laid out in May 2011. Nevada has a fast-growing Hispanic population that helped Obama carry the state in the November election