President Barack Obama called on the House to pick up where the Senate left off last year on immigration reform.
In his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, President Barack Obama pointed towards hope for lasting immigration legislation in 2014. Obama renewed his call for a potential overhaul of the country’s immigration system for the first time in three decades.
“If we are serious about economic growth,” Mr. Obama said, “it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement — and fix our broken immigration system.
Saying that both Democrats and Republicans are working toward immigration overhaul, his remarks mirrored his appeal for immigration policy reform in his 2013 address.
“Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants,” Obama said then. “Now is the time to do it. Now is the time to get it done.”
Last summer, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill that sought to firm up border security and to clear a pathway of citizenship for 11 million undocumented residents in the nation, a measure that made House GOP lawmakers uneasy and a demand that Mr. Obama did not make in Tuesday’s speech.
Late last year, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said House Republicans had “no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.” The Senate-passed measure did not go up for a vote. Boehner and other House leaders have maintained that Congress adopt a “step-by-step way” to address immigration reform instead of the comprehensive approach that gave way to the Senate’s bill.
In early 2014, Obama said he would accept the House’s piecemeal approach, while Boehner hired Rebecca Tallent, former top aide to Sen. John McCain, in December to be his new immigration policy director. Boehner said Tallent was part of the Republican effort to craft a list of “principles” for immigration reform.