U.S. President Barack Obama
Beyond Borders

Obama Plans Speech To Address Immigration

June 30, 2010 By Alison Bowen
President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama will address the nation’s immigration system in a speech Thursday morning.

The announcement follows a week in which the president huddled with immigration activists and met Hispanic political leaders.

His speech isn’t expected to unveil new policy or bring strong implications beyond building coalitions and reiterating his commitment to reform.

The speech, slotted at American University’s School of International Service, also will not likely address the federal review of Arizona’s pending law, the Washington Post reported.

The president’s schedule this week has been dotted with meetings where he’s heard immigration concerns. Monday afternoon, the president met with immigration activists.

“We raised our concerns about the urgently needed reforms to the harsh and draconian detention and deportation mechanisms that are tearing apart families and communities under his watch,” Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said after the meeting

According to the White House, Obama pushed the grassroots activists for a bipartisan effort. He’s repeatedly pressured immigration activists to find Republican sponsors for a bill.

Also this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said a “bitterly divided Congress” is the reason immigration reform hasn’t nudged forward. Speaking to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, she suggested first securing the border.

“And the word secure really becomes, effectively, ‘seal’ the border,” she told the crowd, according to the AP.

The president has been quietly moving to bolster border troops. After moving 1,200 National Guard troops to the Mexican border last month, two border state governors criticized the move. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and Texas Governor Rick Perry said their 524 and 250 National Guard troops, respectively, weren’t nearly enough. Brewer suggested 6,000 instead, including 3,000 for her state.

“What we heard wasn’t anything what we hoped to hear,” Brewer said after a meeting with Obama.

Hope for passing a comprehensive immigration bill this year remain dim. Other issues like climate legislation threaten to derail any movement, along with both sides’ strong emotions. Last week, Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez said the Democrats are still lacking support needed to move a bill, The Hill reported.

Brewer, who’s clashed with the president after signing a bill requiring everyone in her state to show proof of citizenship, isn’t the only one trying to take immigration enforcement into their own state’s hands.

Last week, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a coalition of mayors and business leaders to overhaul the national immigration system.

The Partnership for a New American Economy would help employers verify immigrants’ status and push more immigrants toward work, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the mayor’s office, the group will work with Congress and the White House, suggesting ways to secure borers and use technology to hamper illegal immigration.

Image: Jurvetson @ Flickr.

About Alison Bowen

Alison is a Missouri native and New York City freelance writer who has wanted to cover Latin America since studying Spanish in Central America. After moving to Brooklyn, her work has appeared in The New York Times, the Daily News, the Manhattan Times and Women’s eNews. She earned a master’s degree in journalism and Latin American and Caribbean studies at New York University. Her thesis focused on immigration policies after September 11, including counterterrorism measures, and their effects on the daily lives of immigrants in New York City.