President Obama is expected to talk about immigration reform during his State of the Union address Tuesday. (Photo : Reuters)
On the heels of the big push on immigration reform in the last few weeks, President Obama is expected to talk about fixing the immigration system in his highly-anticipated State of the Union address Tuesday.
In his annual State of the Union address, the president is expected to talk about immigration reform, as well as a number of topics that include jobs, gun control and climate change, among others.
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Already having touted a plan that involves creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants across the nation, President Obama said last week that fixing the immigration system went hand-in-hand with helping the U.S. economy.
"Obviously economic growth is a priority," he said. "But making sure that we're opening up opportunity for everybody is also important. And that's why immigration reform is so critical."
However, some advocates pushing to fix the immigration system aren't expecting to hear anything different from what they've already heard on the issue during Obama's Tuesday speech.
"I am going to predict he is going to say nothing different, and it's going to be not as extensive as Las Vegas because he is going to cover a range of topics," said Frank Sharry, executive director of left-leaning immigration advocacy group America's Voice, told Roll Call.com Friday.
"Sometimes in the past we have breathlessly counted the number of words and where it was in the speech," Sharry continued. "The fact that he went to Las Vegas and threw down the way he did has really mobilized and motivated many of us in the immigration reform movement."
Sharry was referring to the speech at a Las Vegas high school President Obama delivered in late January where he talked extensively about the need to make changes to the immigration system, including a pathway to citizenship and securing the border, among others.
The speech, Sharry said, proved that immigration reform was a top priority for Obama this year.
The president is not the only one who has come forward with a plan on immigration, as the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" U.S. Senators have also issued their own plan, one which would create a conditional path to citizenship once the security at the U.S.-Mexico border is beefed up, while calling for businesses to have mandatory background checks on the immigration statuses of workers.
The plan, championed by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., would call for employers to use the federal E-Verify database to check whether workers are authorized to work in the U.S. If passed, businesses around the nation would be prohibited from hiring workers who have not gone through the background checking system.
Rubio calls it a "tough, but fair" system, but critics say that the E-Verify system is too expensive for small businesses, and it poses serious questions regarding constitutional rights.
"Using employers as a fourth arm of the government is not the framework that the founders of this country envisioned when they created the Constitution," David Bier, an immigration policy analyst at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, told the Florida Watchdog. "When you have a giant database on every single person, you can easily identify them and create a monitoring system for their activities."
Bier pointed out that American citizens and their employers are not immigration agents and should not be forced to maintain a vigilance on their employees on behalf of the federal government.