LAS VEGAS (AP) — Declaring “now is the time” to fix broken immigration laws, President Barack Obama on Tuesday heralded a rare show of bipartisanship between the White House and Senate lawmakers on principles for putting millions of illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship, cracking down on businesses that employ people illegally and tightening security at the borders.
But both the White House and Senate proposals for tackling the complex and emotionally charged issue still lack key details. And potential roadblocks are already emerging over how to structure the road to citizenship and whether a bill would will same-sex couples — and that’s all before a Senate measure can be debate, approved and sent to the Republican-controlled House where opposition is likely to be stronger.
Obama, in the heart of the heavily Hispanic Southwest, said differences between the parties are dwindling and Congress is showing “a genuine desire to get this done soon.”
“A call to action can now be heard all across America,” Obama said during a campaign-style event in Las Vegas, one week after being sworn in for a second term in the White House.
Despite possible obstacles to come, the broad agreement between the White House and bipartisan lawmakers in the Senate represents a drastic shift in Washington’s willingness to tackle immigration, an issue that has languished for years. Much of that shift is politically motivated, due to the growing influence of Hispanics in presidential and other elections and their overwhelming support for Obama in November.
The separate White House and Senate proposals focus on the same principles: providing a way for most of the estimated 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally to become citizens, strengthening border security, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and streamlining the legal immigration system.