Obama Hopes 2014 Is Comprehensive Immigration Reform's Breakthrough Year

 @LauraMatt
on December 20 2013 3:43 PM
Obama Aug 20 2012
President Barack Obama. Reuters

His job approval rating is comparatively low this year, but President Barack Obama’s optimism that he will score a win on comprehensive immigration reform still remains high.

Calling the issue the “biggest thing that I wanted to get done this year,” the president is hopeful 2014 will be a breakthrough year for immigration and other bipartisan issues. Obama said there is a commitment on the part of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to advance the immigration overhaul next year.

“The fact that it didn’t hit the timeline that I’d prefer is obviously frustrating, but it’s not something that I end up brooding a lot about,” the president said.

Earlier this year, immigration reform was among the many liberal achievements Obama had on his second-term agenda. It appeared poised for success when the Senate passed its comprehensive bill in June to improve border security and create a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s more than 11 million undocumented immigrants. A powerful and united advocacy movement took the lead on the issue during the Congressional summer recess, pleading their cause and making it clear its adherents would show their displeasure at the 2014 midterm elections.

However, the Senate’s legislation was dead on arrival, as the House GOP refused to acknowledge it or even put the bill on the floor without a “majority of the majority” in support.

In an effort to keep momentum, House Democrats drafted a similar bill but included a border security bill favored by the lower chamber. That, too, is still in limbo, as Republicans continue their piecemeal approach to immigration.

“We can get immigration reform done,” Obama said. “We’ve got a concept that has bipartisan support. Let’s see if we can get through the politics on this.”

It looks as if Boehner himself wants to ease the stalemate, as he brought immigration reform expert Rebecca Tallent, who has been labeled by opponents of reform as the “amnesty architect,” into his team of close advisors.

It is just one of many signs that encourage the president and others who are watching to see whether Republicans are serious about not dragging out the issue. Obama, who has said he is willing work with Republicans as they write a separate bill for every issue, said the Senate’s measure includes all the components of comprehensive reform.

“So, let’s go ahead and get that done,” Obama said.

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