Under Electoral Pressure, Obama Holds Immigration Reform Summit
President Barack Obama invited Tuesday afternoon a bipartisan group of leaders from around the country, including former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, to the White House to focus on one of the issues the president has yet to make significant headway on: immigration reform.
A couple of weeks after launching his bid for re-election in 2012, the meeting suggests that Obama recognizes he must begin to appease Latinos and other large immigrant blocks that helped elect him in the first place. Fixing the nation's "broken" immigration system was one his main campaign promises along with health care reform and stronger climate change legislation.
Yet, his administration has been marked by a record number of deportations. Various reports during the past year said deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants was meant to show Republicans that he was serious about tackling illegal immigration. The move has largely backfired, drawing ire from activists and failing to sway any Republicans.
More than three in five Americans is opposed to the current Constitutional provision that gives citizenship to children born in America to illegal immigrants, according to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday. About 28 percent percent of those surveyed supported the current law. Several Republican senators want to take this right away.
With Obama slow to lead on immigration issues, states such as Arizona, Georgia, Colorado and California have been taking issues into their own hands. Legislators in Arizona tried to deny citizenship rights to U.S.-born children of illegal immigrats. California lawmakers want to make college students in the state illegally eligible for financial aid. The Republican Schwarzenegger refused to sign similar bills during his tenure at the helm of California, but Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, could be more open to signing such legislation.
The Rasmussen poll showed voters are now evenly divided than ever about whether immigration reform should be lead by the states or Washington.
Immigrant rights activists are gearing up for the annual May Day nationwide rally on May 1 to bring attention to the injustices against immigrants--both legal and illegal.
An observor in the Atlantic wrote Tuesday that America's distinction as a melting pot is slipping.
"Nations that welcome the best and most diverse talent win, while those that close their borders to it fall further and further behind. The ability not just to attract immigrants but to integrate and effectively harness their skills is a key axis of global economic success, now and even more so in the future," Richard Florida wrote.