Washington: US President Barack Obama Thursday said he is committed to fulfill his election promise of immigration reform, even though his energies are somewhat distracted by other pressing issues of the day.
“We can’t continue with a broken immigration system. It’s not good for anybody,” Obama told a press conference at the White House.
The broken immigration system, Obama argued, is putting unnecessary strain on the border communities, who oftentimes have to deal with a host of undocumented workers. “It keeps those undocumented workers in shadows, which means they can be exploited at the same time as they’re depressing US wages,” he said.
Obama said the process starts moving in the first year of his presidency. “I’m going to be moving it as quickly as I can. I’ve been accused of doing too much. We are moving full steam ahead on all fronts. Ultimately, I don’t have control of the legislative calendar, and so we’re going to work with legislative leaders to see what we can do,” he said.
Observing that the broken immigration system is putting strain on border communities, Obama said he plans to convene a working group, working with key legislators and others to start looking at a framework on how this legislation might be shaped.
“In the meantime, what we’re trying to do is take some key administrative steps to move the process along to lay the groundwork for legislation. Because the American people need some confidence that if we actually put a package together, we can execute,“ he said.
“If the American people don’t feel like you can secure the borders, then it’s hard to strike a deal that would get people out of the shadows and on a pathway to citizenship who are already here, because the attitude of the average American is going to be, well, you’re just going to have hundreds of thousands of more coming in each year,” he said.
On the other hand, Obama said, showing that there is a more thoughtful approach than just raids of a handful of workers as opposed to, for example, taking seriously the violation of companies that sometimes are actively recruiting these workers to come in. “That’s again something we can start doing administratively,” he said.
“So what we want to do is to show that we are competent and getting results around immigration, even on the structures that we already have in place, the laws that we already have in place, so that we’re building confidence among the American people that we can actually follow through on whatever legislative approach emerges,” Obama said.