Following the resolution of the debt ceiling crisis, President Obama urged Congress to come together on immigration reform in his weekly address to the nation over the weekend. (Photo : Youtube/The White House)
With the debt ceiling crisis now averted, at least for the moment, President Barack Obama took the opportunity to urge Congress to pass immigration reform into law during his weekly address.
The Senate's approved bill, which would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and increase border security, has sat frozen in the Republican-controlled House due to the debt ceiling crisis that temporarily shut down the government and the reluctance of the GOP leadership in the House to pass the bill.
In his weekend address, Obama urged Congress to "finish the job of fixing our broken immigration system."
"There's already a broad coalition across America that's behind this effort, from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement," Obama said. "It would grow our economy. It would secure our borders. The Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support. Now the House should, too. The majority of Americans thinks this is the right thing to do. It can and should get done by the end of this year."
The recent polls seem to back President Obama's statements. As noted by Politico earlier this month, a series of polls conducted in GOP-held House districts in California revealed that voters in the polls "overwhelmingly" supported immigration reform that included a pathway to citizenship. Those same voters also felt that the GOP's support of immigration reform would actually aid the Republican Party's public standing.
According to those polls, more than 70 percent stated they would support a bill that mirrored the one approved by the Senate, while 69 percent of voters approved of a pathway to citizenship as long as said immigrants affected by it agreed to pay back taxes, pass background checks, learn English and wait at least 13 years.
All of the districts polled had a sizeable Latino population, at least 40 percent of Latinos comprising those districts.
In his address, Obama acknowledged that working with the Republicans on immigration reform and several other outstanding issues would be a challenge, given the adversarial relationship between the Democrats and the GOP, but still called for bipartisan unity in getting a deal done on those issues.
"We won't suddenly agree on everything now that the cloud of crisis has passed. But we shouldn't hold back on places where we do agree, just because we don't think it's good politics, or just because the extremes in our parties don't like compromise," he said. "I'll look for willing partners from either party to get important work done. There's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. Because that isn't governing - it's just hurting the people we were sent here to serve."
However, Republican leaders seem more pessimistic about the possibility of working together with the president on immigration reform.
Last week, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Id., said that the House GOP leadership would be "crazy" to negotiate with Obama if the president intends to make the same "good faith effort" regarding an immigration bill that he did during fiscal negotiations.
On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a key member of the bipartisan Senate panel that crafted the current immigration told Fox News on Sunday that he agreed with Rep. Labrador, and sounded more downbeat about the prospects of immigration reform passing into law.
"Immigration reform is going to be a lot harder to accomplish than it was three weeks ago," he said.
However, he added, passing immigration reform into law was still "an important issue for our nation to confront."
"There's no argument the immigration system has to be fixed," he said.