President Barack Obama is following up two days of meetings on U.S. immigration policy with a speech Thursday on the need for a comprehensive solution to what he and others have said is a broken system.
Obama discussed immigration and the speech at a White House meeting Tuesday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He held similar talks with advocates and labor leaders a day earlier.
Although prospects for getting an immigration bill through Congress this election year are bleak, the White House says that Obama on Tuesday discussed his desire for Democrats and Republicans to build on a proposal by Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
The plan calls for illegal immigrants to admit they broke the law, pay fines and back taxes and perform community service if they want to get on a pathway to legal status. They also would be required to pass background checks and be proficient in English.
Graham since has balked at moving forward on immigration this year, no other Senate Republican has come forward to replace him and Obama insists that nothing will happen on immigration without Republican support that he recognizes is virtually nonexistent.
Latino leaders said after Monday’s meeting that they will begin working to pressure Republicans to support a bill.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Tuesday that Obama’s speech will largely reiterate past statements on the need for a comprehensive solution, that immigration policy is a federal responsibility and that the U.S. can’t afford a patchwork of state immigration laws.
Arizona recently enacted a law requiring police enforcing another statute to clarify a person’s immigration status if there’s reason to believe the individual is in the U.S. illegally. Several states and communities are considering following Arizona’s lead.
Obama has called Arizona’s law “misguided” and, at his request, the Justice Department is reviewing it for possible civil rights violations.