Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama confabs with Congressional Latinos on immigration, Mexico

Obama confabs with Congressional Latinos on immigration, Mexico

All 24 members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus turned up this morning for a sit-down at the White House with President Barack Obama. The caucus went in aiming to hold the president to his promise to overhaul the country's immigration system, with an emphasis on providing a path to legal status for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants.

The issue has proven a powerful motivator for many Latinos to become engaged in politics. And it's a good bet that the caucus reminded the president of the big role Latino voters played in electing him -- two-thirds of the record 9.7 million Hispanic voters who turned out in November chose Obama.

After the hour-long meeting, the Latino leaders pronounced themselves pleased, saying they had gotten the president's pledge that he would move forward with a plan for "comprehensive immigration reform" this year. Caucus chair Nydia Velazquez of New York had this to say: "The President made clear to us that he is a man of his word. He clearly understands the consequences of a broken immigration system. We believe that under his leadership we can finally provide some dignity to the thousands of families that are living in the shadows and in fear."

Pro-immigrant Democratic strategists were also calling the confab a success. "It's an exciting day," said Simon Rosenberg of NDN. And given the magnitude of Obama's other legislative challenges, he predicted: "The White House is going to realize that passing comprehensive immigration reform is one of the easier things he can do this year."

Obama called the meeting a "robust and strategic" conversation on immigration. But (perhaps mindful of the sparks immigrant legalization tends to ignite) he also shifted the focus to another front burner concern Congress has raised in the past week: the drug cartel violence on Mexico's northern border.

Here's part of the White House statement: "During the meeting, the President announced that he will travel to Mexico next month to meet with President Calderon to discuss the deep and comprehensive US-Mexico relationship, including how the United States and Mexico can work together to support Mexico's fight against drug-related violence and work toward effective, comprehensive immigration reform."

Posted By: Tyche Hendricks (Email) | March 18 2009 at 03:41 PM

Listed Under: immigration

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