President Obama: No immigration reform until 2010

August 11, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader

Locked in a health care reform debate that is claiming much of his energy, President Barack Obama acknowledged Monday that a push to overhaul the immigration system would have to wait until 2010.

Obama suggested it would be too ambitious to aim for a bill addressing such concerns as illegal immigration before the end of the year, when he will be confronting “a pretty big stack of bills.”

Speaking at the end of a two-day summit meeting of North American leaders, Obama said his administration was meeting with lawmakers to try to come up with an immigration plan that would have bipartisan support. “When we come back next year ... we should be in a position to start acting.”

As a candidate, Obama said in July 2008 that he would make immigration “a top priority in my first year as president.”

But the economy and realities of governing have forced him to re-examine how to roll out his agenda.

Opponents of the existing immigration structure are dismayed by the latest timetable.

“There's a real hunger on the part of the American public to make sure immigrants are legal, are working towards citizenship, are paying their taxes and not being used by bad-actor employers to undercut honest employers”.

Obama said he was confident that he ultimately would prevail in providing a road to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States. But anticipating the struggle to get such a bill passed, he said illegal-immigration foes would put up stout resistance.

“Now, am I going to be able to snap my fingers and get this done?” Obama said. “No.”

“There are going to be demagogues out there who try to suggest that any form of pathway for legalization for those who are already in the United States is unacceptable.”

He added: “But ultimately, I think the American people want fairness.”

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