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Mexican ambassador says now is the time for immigration reform

Arturo Sarukhan, Mexico's ambassador to the U.S., said now is the time for this country to act on comprehensive immigration reform. President Barack Obama endorsed the idea in a separate news conference later in the day. (Cronkite News Service photo by Khara Persad)

The Mexican ambassador to the United States said Wednesday that immigration reform is vital for relations between the two countries and that the time for reform is now.

“I’ve said it before – I don’t think there’s as an important issue for the future wellbeing of our bilateral relationship than getting immigration reform right,” Arturo Sarukhan said at a news conference in Washington.

“I think the time is ripe,” he said.

That comment was echoed later Wednesday by President Barack Obama, who said in an unrelated White House news conference that he is “very confident” that Washington can get immigration reform done in his second term.

It also comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are expressing a new willingness to deal with the issue.

Kyrsten Sinema, the incoming member of Congress from Arizona’s 9th District, said Tuesday that the state is ready for a solution to immigration issues.

“Arizona … is Ground Zero for the fight on immigration,” Sinema said. “I hope that members of Congress are sincerely interested in working on a solution.”

The Hill newspaper reported Tuesday that Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Mesa, is expected to be part of any Republican effort on reform after he is sworn in to the Senate in January. A Flake spokeswoman would only say in an email Wednesday that the congressman “expects to take an active role in any immigration reform efforts next year.”

But the intent to get something done does not mean it will be easy, said Michelle Mittelstadt, spokeswoman at the Migration Policy Institute.

“There is a commitment and desire to do something, but there are still ideological divides,” Mittelstadt said.

She said all three parts of comprehensive reform – legalization of immigrants living here illegally now, increased border enforcement and temporary worker programs that would meet future demands – have to be pursued at the same time.

“The political reality is, to do it comprehensively, you must address them all at one time,” she said.

Sarukhan did not lay out specifics for a preferred reform plan, only saying that it should deal with the 11.5 undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and with temporary worker programs.

That drew a sharp response from Ira Mehlman of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, who said Mexico should mind its own business.

“They should not be interfering with the internal policy of the United States,” Mehlman said. “It’s not their call.”

Whatever the U.S. decides to do, Sarukhan said, it should not be the “piecemeal approach” of the past.

“I understand the merits of the piecemeal approach,” he said. “I understand why people would feel that comprehensive (reform) has failed to convince members of Congress and the American public that it’s the right way to go, but I think it would be a big mistake to go down the piecemeal approach.”

But supporters said they believe reform is coming.

“I think the stars are aligning for having an overdue discussion about immigration reform,” said James Garcia, chairman of the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise, a nonpartisan advocacy group.

Garcia, Sarukhan and Laura Vazquez of the National Council of La Raza all pointed to the newfound strength of Latino voters in last week’s elections as one reason for their optimism.

“We fully expect that this is … an issue that’s going to be taken up,” said Vazquez, legislative analyst for La Raza’s Immigration Policy Project. “We’re in a good place.”

She said politicians have “seen that there is support for action on this issue. They have to go through the Latino community.”

Garcia said he is hopeful that, if Flake gets involved in any meaningful way in discussions, he can be a serious player in reform and “a voice for pushing that forward.”

Sarukhan is also hopeful. He pointed to the changing U.S. landscape, where Latinos are gaining political power and immigration issues are pressing, as indicators that change is not too far off.

“The logical window of opportunity for this happening is between 2013 and 2014,” Sarukhan said. “There is a chance that this issue could be resolved.”

11 comments

  1. Very interesting to see the tide turning. If anyone were to study history they may have been able to see this coming; actions align with elections.

    Though the buzz in the media creates the feeling that reform will come in 2013, I have an equal pull in my gut that says 2014 6-9 months before the elections will be the “sweet” spot.

    As for the “ideological divides” after close analysis the “divides” become much smaller and the common threads much stronger. Fodder for the conversation along that notion is “The Immigration Paradox” Film.

  2. We already have immigration laws that are not being enforced. Immigration reform should consist of mandatory E-Verify and higher fines for anyone hiring an illegal. Deportation of all illegal immigrants and funds to enforce border security and employment verification.

  3. Great…. another meddling Mexican chimes in. Splendid. How about you go FOAD, Artie.

    Gee, I didn’t see any “amnesty a bunch of border-jumpers” box to check on the ballot. Did I miss something? What I did see were a bunch of ignorant imbeciles re-electing the treasonous socialist scumbag in the White House because of all the freebies he’s been doling out at our expense for the last 4 years.

  4. Americans have become such Dopes. They have allowed their Congress, and Senate to give Mexico full authority to abuse them. Pathetic.

  5. Senor Sarukhan, Unlike Mexico, those who respect the sovereignty of our nation, would like to see are our laws enforced rather than “reformed” which is code for amnesty. Please refer to Title 8, Sec. 1325 of the US Code. It clearly states that illegal immigration is just that – a crime! We do not need or want your people. We are broke and can no longer continue to subsidize your country and the countless other countries that expect us to take care of them. Your illegals drive down wages and destroy our country in too many ways to list. We need our military lined up on the border, shoulder to shoulder. I think someone sneaking in would think twice when he encountered a 6′ armed Marine who’s there to stop him. Then deportation needs to begin. Simple, and at no cost…demand illegals leave or do prison time. Eisenhower did it and the world kept turning when they left. All immigration needs a moratorium for ten years. When all Americans are employed we can think about resuming, but no more anchor babies. So, why not take your demands to your own government and start making Mexico a country that takes care of its people, not urging them to break the laws of our country. Adios

  6. No, the “political reality” is that Americans don’t want amnesty in any form. We saw what happened in 1986–we got the amnesty but not the rest of it. ENFORCE the laws for a few years, and that means INTERIOR enforcement as well as at the borders, and not only our southern borders but US VISIT to control visa overstays as well.

    If Mexico wants a good bilateral relationship with us, it would do well to repatriate its citizens who made the UNILATERAL decision to violate our sovereignty.

  7. It’s ALWAYS time for immigration “reform” [AMNESTY]. Winter, spring, summer, or fall – all you’ve got to do is call. Bush held the border open as hostage for amnesty. Bush out, Obama in. Same plan. Lie that the border is “more secure than ever” and absolutely refuse to secure it (a multi-year project) until the invaders/squatters are registered Democrats. Ha! Ha! Republicans won! Now the get their cheap labor permatized and can blame it on the election and Bronco Bama. Wouldn’t you trade permanent cheap labor for permanent minority party status and saying “yes sir” to Libertarians? The McCainites will.

  8. Sounds like the traitors are beating the drums of doom. The American public is angry, despite the seeming love-fest of Obama’s re-election. It may seem like Americans will swallow just about anything and won’t balk no matter how far they’re pushed, but those days are over. Those think tanks who think this sort of treason is going to fly are in for some big surprises. The people will revolt. Push this mass amnesty/open border lunacy/treason and the fire for succession will ignite in a very real way.

    My pledge of allegiance wasn’t extended to see my culture and country over-run by and merged with socialist Hispanics who don’t give a spit about what America once stood for or her founding father’s and the principles that used to guide us.

  9. See even Mexico doesn’ t want Mexicans.

  10. I DONT THINK NEEDS TO DICTATE ANYTHING DO YOU FELLOW REAL AMERICANS? MEXICO PRINTS UP MAPS AND HELPS THEM COME TO U.S.A. EVERYDAY OF YEAR FOREVER. CATHOLIC CHURCH SAMEWAY TAKEOVER AMERICA ? THERE IS NO LIMITS WHAT THEY WILL OR DO TO TAKE AMERICA OVER REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. I SAY STOP ALL OF MEXICOS IMMIGRATION TO U.S.A. EXCEPT LEGAL NOW??? AND ENFORCE SB1070 AND ALL THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION LAWS . CLEAR THIS SWARM OUT AND LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

  11. I DONT THINK NEEDS TO DICTATE ANYTHING DO YOU FELLOW REAL AMERICANS? MEXICO PRINTS UP MAPS AND HELPS THEM COME TO U.S.A. EVERYDAY OF YEAR FOREVER. CATHOLIC CHURCH SAMEWAY TAKEOVER AMERICA ? THERE IS NO LIMITS WHAT THEY WILL OR WONT DO TO TAKE AMERICA OVER REALLY THINK ABOUT IT. I SAY STOP ALL OF MEXICOS IMMIGRATION TO U.S.A. EXCEPT LEGAL NOW??? AND ENFORCE SB1070 AND ALL THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION LAWS . CLEAR THIS SWARM OUT AND DONT LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN.

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