A group of Latino elected and appointed officials hope Tuesday’s White House meeting on immigration reform hopes the session is “more than just a discussion on this pressing issue,” but yields results on what has been a stalled initiative of President Obama.
Obama met with Cabinet officials, lawmakers, and others on the matter of immigration reform, according to a White House statement on the event.
“The President reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system, and pointed out that perpetuating a broken immigration system is not an option if America is to win the future,” the statement says.
Obama has long hoped to enact such reforms, but found limited traction in Congress last year. Conservatives deride such an effort to deal with the undocumented immigrants living within U.S. borders as “amnesty,” and some have gone so far as to call for stripping the children of illegal immigrants of the birthright citizenship guaranteed them in the Constitution.
Senators also failed to approve a narrower immigration bill known as the DREAM Act, which would have provided “conditional” green cards to as many as 2.1 million people who were brought to the United States illegally by their parents when they were under the age of 16. It would have allowed them to work, attend college and serve in the military. It also would have put them on a path to citizenship.
Following the White House meeting, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund reiterated its principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which includes “a path to U.S. citizenship for those immigrants who have played by the rules and are contributing to our society.”
“We look forward to seeing what concrete steps emerge from today’s meeting and are ready to work with the President and Congress on a legislative plan aimed at fixing our broken immigration system and which makes comprehensive immigration reform a reality,” the group says in a statement.
Latino voters have emerged as a key voting bloc, proving to be decisive in key battleground states in the 2010 midterm elections. Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was re-elected last fall largely on Latino turnout in Nevada in a tough race against a tea party favorite.
Overall Latino voter turnout was strong and continued to lean Democratic even as Republicans made big gains with other voters. According to MSNBC exit polling in key battleground House races, Latino voters made up 8 percent of those races and favored Democrats over Republicans by 65 percent to 33 percent.
Scott Nance is the editor and publisher of the news site The Washington Current. He has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.