Last week, President Obama traveled to El Paso, Texas to visit the border and give a speech urging lawmakers to take up the issue of comprehensive immigration reform. This is the first time since July 2010 that the President has given a major speech on the topic. Part of President Obama's campaign in 2008 was a promise of passing a comprehensive reform in his first year in office. Since this issue has yet to be tackled and the President's promise not kept, he has lost the trust of some Latino voters. Many critics have spoken out by saying they believe the President's speech last week was just a campaign ploy to regain his popularity among Latino voters but White House officials have said otherwise.
The Republican party has and will continue to be a major obstacle President Obama will face in attempting to get Congress to take action on immigration reform. The Republicans' goal is to first secure the border, and then deal with a more comprehensive reform, once they believe the border is secure. With Republicans controlling the House, any comprehensive measure is highly unlikely to pass through both chambers. Just a day after President Obama's speech in El Paso, Senate Democrats re-introduced the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which would create a path to legal status for young children of illegal immigrants if they join the armed forces or attend college for two years. Because the legislation does not stand much chance of passing in the House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has suggested attaching the DREAM Act to legislation dealing with the E-Verify system, which is under the jurisdiction of the House Judiciary Committee. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has labeled the E-Verify legislation a top priority of the Committee but remains opposed to the DREAM Act.
While the Obama Administration will continue to push Congress to work on a comprehensive immigration reform measure, the unfavorable climate on Capitol Hill should make passage of the initiative incredibly difficult.