Obama: Immigration Next After Shutdown, Debt Limit Fights

Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama said Tuesday that he will push Congress to take up immigration reform immediately after the fiscal crises facing the nation have been resolved.

Momentum behind an immigration overhaul has been stymied by the government shutdown and the impending deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit. But the president said Congress must reconsider immigration reform, arguing it would boost the economy and offer legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

“Once that’s done, you know, the day after I’m going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform,” Obama told Univision’s Los Angeles affiliate, KMEX, in an interview Tuesday. “I’m going to do so because I think it’s really important for the country.”

The president is attempting to reassure advocates for immigration reform that the fight is not over, despite the fact the effort faces extremely long odds in Congress.

In June, the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration reform bill that contained ramped-up border security measures and a pathway to citizenship to many of the 11.7 million undocumented immigrants. But the Republicans who control House of Representatives quickly declared the bill dead on arrival and any broad immigration overhaul has faced long odds of passage ever since.

The acrimony between Republicans and the White House has only heightened throughout the course of the government shutdown and debt-limit fights.

With partisan tension as thick as ever and time running out before the calendar turns to 2014, an election year, some immigrant activists fear that hopes for an immigration bill this year might be dashed.

Considering the stalemate in Congress, immigration-reform advocates have placed pressure on Obama to take executive action to relax his policies on deportations. Since Obama took office, his administration has deported 400,000 undocumented immigrants per year on average.

The president indicated he would continue to work through Congress to enact changes to immigration law.

“We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate,” he said. “The only thing right now that’s holding it back is again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives. So we’re going to have to get through this crisis that was unnecessary … if I have to join with other advocates and continue to speak out on that, and keep pushing, I’m going to do so.”

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