President Obama Holds Bipartisan Immigration Meeting: Immigration Bill Coming Soon
1. President Obama Holds Bipartisan Immigration Meeting: Immigration Bill Coming Soon
President Obama vowed on Thursday, June 25, 2009 to immediately begin negotiations to craft comprehensive immigration reform (CIR), with the goal of passing legislation in Congress later this year or early next year.
Obama said that all parties were in agreement that the current immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. "The American people still want to see a solution in which we are tightening up our borders, (and) we're cracking down on employers who are using illegal workers in order to drive down wages," he said. "And we need an effective way to recognize and legalize the status of undocumented workers who are here."
Obama said his administration has already taken steps to make the border more secure. But he said that the American public is not yet convinced that immigration problems - including illegal border crossings, undocumented workers and the stress they put on public services such as health care and education - can be fixed.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is expected to introduce the immigration legislation in the coming months.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a leading advocate of CIR, stressed the importance of including a legal temporary worker program in the bill. Senator McCain indicated that legislation without some sort of plan for legalizing the 12 million or so unauthorized workers currently in the U.S. would not gain his nor the Republican party's support.
The AFL-CIO joined the immigration coalition for the first time this year, on the condition that a proposed temporary guest worker program for future immigrant workers would not be part of the bill. Instead, the labor unions have proposed the creation of a federal commission that would adjust the number of worker visas each year based on economic conditions.
Mr. Obama announced improvements to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office (USCIS). The office will collaborate with Mr. Obama's chief information officer, chief performance officer and chief technologies officer to make the agency more efficient, more transparent and more user-friendly. USCIS will also launch in the next 90 days a new Web site that will, for the first time ever, allow applicants to get updates on their status of their applications via e-mail and text message and online.