Next week, President Barack Obama is making it his primary objective to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. He and his administration recently announced that they are planning to create legal status for millions of foreigners who are in the country illegally, and is working with a group in the Senate to get it done.
Latino voters were strong backers of the president during the last election, and many leaders in this community demanded that the president address immigration reform in exchange for their endorsement. This gives the Democratic Party a strong opportunity to build lasting alliances with this very powerful voting bloc, which would give them a strong advantage over the Republicans
The president will begin speaking on the issue during a trip to Las Vegas this week. Obama is leaning on a 2011 immigration “blueprint” that calls for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants. The path will include fines and taxes that must be paid, but will allow illegals to join the workforce and gain the rights of other Americans. He is also calling for greater security at the border, mandatory green cards and lifting the cap on legal immigration for immediate family members of US citizens.
“What has been absent in the time since he put those principles forward has been a willingness by Republicans, generally speaking, to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “What he hopes is that that dynamic has changed.”
The president received 70% of the Latino vote in the last election. This support, however, falls short of that of the Africa American community, which gave the president more than 95% approval. Hispanics constitute 16.7% of the nation’s population, while African Americans are 13%. So, since the president received more black votes than Hispanic, some black leaders wonder why the president has not made the black unemployment crisis or mass incarceration an equally high priority during his second term.
The president met this week with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss next steps in his immigration plans. He told the group that “immigration reform is his number one legislative priority.” Securing legal status for millions of illegal immigrants beneath the radar screen will permanently change the voter demographics in the United States.