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Despite difficult politics, Obama pitches immigration reform

The president blamed Republicans for inaction on immigration reform, and called for greater border security, more workplace scrutiny, streamlining the US immigration system, and a plan for illegal immigrants to 'get right.'

By Staff writer / July 1, 2010

President Obama urged comprehensive immigration reform Thursday at American University in Washington.

Larry Downing/Reuters

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Washington

President Obama appealed to Americans’ immigrant past – and hopes over fears – in a high-profile pitch Thursday for comprehensive immigration reform.

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Mr. Obama’s speech at American University seemed more a place-holder than a specific call to action, as the president acknowledged the difficult politics around the issue. There is no chance Congress will tackle immigration reform this year, and in fact, prospects for next year could be just as grim; Republicans are expected to make significant gains in congressional seats in the fall midterm elections, potentially taking over one or both houses of Congress.

A conservative groundswell in the GOP has left no Senate Republicans willing to step forward and co-sponsor legislation on immigration.

But Obama still took time in a week packed with other issues – stubbornly high unemployment, financial reform, the BP oil spill, Elena Kagan's Supreme Court confirmation, and US military leadership in Afghanistan – to focus attention on a key 2008 campaign issue: addressing the nation’s broken immigration system, which includes 11 million immigrants here illegally. The issue holds special significance for the Latino community, which voted 2-1 for Obama in 2008. And with four months to go before November's elections, Obama laid blame for inaction on Republicans.

“I'm ready to move forward. The majority of Democrats are ready to move forward. And I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward,” Obama said. “But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem.”

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