Obama Reiterates Commitment to Immigration Reform
By Scott Wilson
President Obama told a Hispanic prayer breakfast today that he is committed to passing "comprehensive immigration reform," although he did not give the audience a timeline for doing so.
Hispanics supported Obama by a wide margin in the last election, and many of their leaders have grown impatient waiting for a president busy with the economic crisis to move on their agenda.
Their primary interest is immigration reform, a politically complex initiative that involves economics, race and America's history as a nation of immigrants, which Obama invoked today at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.
In remarks, Obama reiterated his position that reform should include tighter border control and a path for millions of undocumented immigrants to achieve legal status and citizenship, if they choose.
"For those who wish to become citizens, we should require them to pay a penalty and pay taxes, learn English, go to the back of the line behind those who played by the rules," Obama said. "That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward."
He did not say whether he would seek legislation this year, as Hispanic leaders have urged him to do. Administration officials have said it may be possible to push for immigration reform this fall after Congress finishes work on health care and energy legislation.
Posted at 12:34 PM ET on Jun 19, 2009
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