WASHINGTON, USA – US President Barack Obama spent much of Friday’s (December 21, Saturday in the Philippines) lengthy press conference looking back at 2013, but he often returned to an issue he believes has a silver lining for the New Year: immigration.
Calling comprehensive immigration reform “the biggest thing that I wanted to get done this year,” Obama said he saw potential for a major breakthrough in the months ahead, and suggested House Speaker John Boehner might be ready to move on a historic immigration overhaul.
“There are indications in the House that even though it did not get completed this year, that there is a commitment on the part of this speaker to try to move forward legislation early next year,” the president told reporters at the White House.
“And the fact that it didn’t hit the timeline that I’d prefer is obviously frustrating, but it’s not something that I end up brooding a lot about,” he added.
Obama said he hoped the sweeping bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate this year could soon form the basis for reform.
“Let’s see if we can break through the politics on this,” he said.
Last June the Senate passed the most comprehensive rewrite of US immigration laws in a generation. The landmark bipartisan legislation would provide $46 billion in border security and overhaul the nation’s visa system to allow more high-tech and low-skilled workers.
But House conservatives torpedoed it, arguing that the Senate plan of allowing the 11 million people living in the shadows to apply for US citizenship was tantamount to amnesty for illegal immigrants.
While Boehner said the House would never vote on the Senate measure, he has signalled his support for a “step-by-step” approach to reform.
And House Republican Tom Cole, a close Boehner ally, opened the door even further, telling The Hill’s Friday newspaper that Boehner may soon allow a vote on the four separate measures on immigration reform and border security that have already passed through the House Judiciary Committee.
Boehner and his Republican Party are under heavy pressure ahead of 2016 presidential elections to improve their standing among Hispanic voters for whom immigration is a cherished political goal. –Rappler.com
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