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La Stampa, Italy

Obama: Now Immigration Reform

By Maurizio Molinari

The president is asking Congress to “take the initiative.”

Translated By Linda Merlo

28 November 2012

Edited by Gillian Palmer

Italy - La Stampa - Original Article (Italian)

“We can pass immigration reform; it is up to Congress to act.”* U.S. President Barack Obama is taking advantage of his Mexican colleague Enrique Peña Nieto's arrival at the White House to say that he's in favor of a law capable of healing the problem of over 11 million illegal immigrants within the borders of the United States.

Obama already promised reform in 2009, but the battle over health care forced him to change direction. Now, after a reelection that he owes primarily to the record 71 percent of Hispanics who voted for him, he says he's determined to achieve the goal. “We've got the opportunity to sign a large immigration reform,” said spokesman Jay Carney, “because there's a bipartisan consensus on the subject, and also because of the positive consequences that it would have for the economic recovery.” The term “bipartisan” refers to the presence among the Republican ranks of prominent names like Senators Lindsey Graham, John McCain and Marco Rubio, supporters of “legislative” reform, according to a formula often employed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush. Obama, however, isn't commenting on the specifics, preferring to ask Congress in Washington to “take the initiative,” as happened in 2009 with the health care reform. On his desk there's a draft prepared by Graham, along with Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, in which they hypothesize a “path to citizenship” for people in the U.S. illegally who've always worked and paid income taxes without having committed crimes.

There, also, to support the “urgency of immigration reform” was President Nieto (who takes office Saturday in Mexico City), due to the fact that among his 12 million co-nationals living in the United States, about half are illegal immigrants. Nieto is a harsh critic of the rigid laws against immigrants that have been approved in several states, from Arizona to Alabama, considering them “discriminatory” and “contrary to the common interest of our nations,” which is “to support immigration as an engine for development of North America.”* This is why Nieto is going to Washington to see congressional leaders with the aim of sustaining the necessity of adopting a reform, in the very near future, which could benefit Mexico, assuring greater returns for emigrants.

For Obama, the meeting with Nieto on “the urgency of reform” means having common ground on which to consolidate the Hispanic community's consensus for the Democratic Party. It also means building a strong bilateral agreement to tackle the most difficult issues, such as the fight against organized crime. In fact, Felipe Calderon's (Nieto's predecessor) choice of using the army in 2006 to fight drug trafficking gangs had Washington's support. However, that led to only a partial success, not to mention more than 57,000 victims of an actual armed conflict. Thus, Nieto is pressing for a change in the strategy against narcotics traffickers, but Obama is hesitating on this front. At the White House, there was also talk of increasing trade with the Pacific Rim and plans for joint development of traditional and renewable energy, confirming that, for Obama, Mexico is a strategic partner on economic issues.

*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.



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