Obama’s Focus on Immigration Reform to Start Later This Year

President Obama hopes to launch an effort to overhaul US immigration policy this year. However, the economic crisis is likely to push the process beyond 2009, the White House said Thursday.

Obama aims to draft legislation allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens as part of a major immigration policy revamp.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said that “legislation could come at some point” and underlined that “the president is focused on starting this process this year, as he said in his campaign.”

Gibbs avoided questions on giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, but said “the president believes that there’s only one way to solve this problem, and that is through comprehensive immigration reform.

Obama’s campaign pledges include vows to step up border security, and requirements that undocumented immigrants enter the process behind legal immigrants, and that they learn English and pay a fine.

Over the summer, Obama “will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall, “according to a report by the New York Times. “The legislation  would seek to prevent future illegal immigration by straightening border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, while creating a national system for verifying the legal immigration status of new workers.”

US Officials said that “the Obama administration favors legislation that would bring illegal immigrants into the legal system by recognizing that they violated the law, and imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense.
As a US senator from Illinois, in 2007 Obama voted in favor of immigration reform and made it one of his top campaign issues, winning the key support of 66 percent of some 10 million registered Hispanic voters on election day. A majority of new US immigrants are Hispanics from neighboring Mexico and from Central and South America.

Source: Google news and CNN

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