Las Vegas Sun

July 3, 2015

Currently: 108° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Obama hits the road to sell immigration reform in Las Vegas


Steve Marcus

President Barack Obama speaks during at a campaign rally at the Cheyenne Sports Complex near the College of Southern Nevada in North Las Vegas Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012.

Immigration Reform

Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla, states his support for immigrants and pledges to work in favor of immigration reform to reporters as immigration reform activists protest in front of Freedom Tower in downtown Miami, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013. Launch slideshow »

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will kick off his public push for immigration reform with a visit to Las Vegas today. But as he hits the road to deliver his argument to voters outside the Beltway, the center of the immigration debate appears to be settling squarely in Washington.

Late Sunday, news broke that a bipartisan group of eight senators had struck a deal on a framework for immigration reform, agreeing to balance enhancing enforcement measures to prevent illegal immigration with establishing a “tough but fair” pathway to citizenship for the undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

The announcement of a bipartisan framework puts new momentum and urgency behind the drive toward comprehensive immigration reform, which the president planned to spearhead with his own plan in Las Vegas.

But it also is a stark reminder of where this has gone wrong before — and why, in 2013, things need to be different if Obama wants to cement immigration reform as part of his legacy.

When he speaks in Las Vegas, Obama is expected to lay out a plan for immigration reform in an effort to build public support for his approach.

When the president returns to Washington, his spokesman Jay Carney said Obama will be committed to working with lawmakers “to help bring about a result that is a detailed, specific bill that can win bipartisan support in Congress and that this president can sign.”

On Monday, however, Carney simultaneously praised and downplayed the significance of the senators’ deal.

“This is an important first step that we’ve seen from Congress,” Carney said. “The goal here is not for everyone just to get together and say we share common principles but to achieve legislation that gets the job done.”

To some extent, the two go hand in hand. Because the House is controlled by Republicans and the Senate is controlled by Democrats, any issue — especially one that has been as controversial as immigration reform — must be a bipartisan effort if it is to have a chance of succeeding.

To that end, the four Democratic senators and four Republican senators agreed on four principles:

• Create a pathway to citizenship for the current undocumented population.

• Reform the legal immigration system to make it more responsive to the demands of the economy and family reunification.

• Establish an employment verification system.

• Establish an improved process for admitting future workers.

All of those elements also appear in Obama’s plans for a revamped immigration system.

“The president welcomes the efforts by the bipartisan group in the Senate to put forward principles on the need for comprehensive reform — principles that mirror the president’s blueprint, which, as you know, he has been pressing for some time,” Carney said Monday.

But differences between Obama and the bipartisan group of senators are already emerging over the details that will flesh out that framework.

For example: Six years ago, when the Senate last seriously tackled immigration reform, the bipartisan deal that lawmakers struck coalesced around the concept of a “trigger” — essentially, delaying the pathway to citizenship until the achievement of fully secured borders.

Obama did not endorse such a trigger in the immigration blueprint he released in May 2011. But on Monday, leaders of the group of eight senators embraced a triggered structure outright.

“To prove to the American people that we are serious about permanently ending illegal immigration to the U.S., we say that we will never put these individuals on a path to citizenship until we have fully secured our borders and combated the pattern of people overstaying their legal, immigration visas,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

Meanwhile, a BuzzFeed report Monday night indicated the president plans to extend immigration rights, including the right to extend citizenship through marriage, to same-sex couples in the framework he will lay out in Las Vegas. The bipartisan senators’ proposal does not include initiatives to facilitate immigration for same-sex couples.

Although the details have yet to emerge, Democrats and Republicans agree the last election demonstrated voters expect Congress to act on immigration reform.

“Elections, elections. The Republican Party is losing the support of our Hispanic citizens,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Monday.

“The politics on this issue have been turned upside down,” Schumer said. “For the first time ever, there’s more political risk in opposing immigration reform than supporting it.”

Harry Reid

Harry Reid

The importance of immigration in elections is something Obama learned well in Nevada, where the power of the Hispanic vote helped power his campaign to victories in 2008 and 2012. The Hispanic vote also helped propel Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to victory over Sharron Angle in 2010. Though immigration reform is not a top-ranking issue for Hispanic voters, it is a litmus test for that electorate — and one that Democrats have been passing with flying colors, claiming about 70 percent of the Hispanic vote in the past several elections.

Even Republicans who have managed to survive those odds know that a viable political future in Nevada depends on being on the right side of the Hispanic population.

Dean Heller

Dean Heller

Sen. Dean Heller, the only Republican to win his Senate race in a state Obama also won in 2012, strongly embraced the principles of the Dream Act in the wake of his election and spoke highly of Obama’s efforts and of the Senate proposal Monday.

“This bipartisan group of senators has provided a reasonable starting point for Republicans and Democrats to work together. I support many of the principles included in this plan and look forward to reviewing specific details in the weeks and months ahead,” Heller said in a statement. “As the president prepares to release his own ideas for immigration reform, it is my hope that he looks to this bipartisan proposal as a blueprint for his plans moving forward.”

The senators who unveiled their framework of principles Monday said they expect finish drafting hard legislation by March and hope that it will pass the Senate by late spring or early summer — a timeline that Reid seems to be fine with.

“It’s very important to me, personally, that we resolve this issue,” Reid said Monday, praising the group of senators for their proposal and promising to do “everything in my power as majority leader” to bring it to the floor for a vote once drafted.

“Nothing short of bipartisan success is acceptable to me,” Reid said.

Join the Discussion:

Check this out for a full explanation of our conversion to the LiveFyre commenting system and instructions on how to sign up for an account.

Full comments policy

Previous Discussion: 13 comments so far…

Comments are moderated by Las Vegas Sun editors. Our goal is not to limit the discussion, but rather to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and contain no abusive language. Comments that are off-topic, vulgar, profane or include personal attacks will be removed. Full comments policy. Additionally, we now display comments from trusted commenters by default. Those wishing to become a trusted commenter need to verify their identity or sign in with Facebook Connect to tie their Facebook account to their Las Vegas Sun account. For more on this change, read our story about how it works and why we did it.

Only trusted comments are displayed on this page. Untrusted comments have expired from this story.

  1. REMEMBER THIS.........if legalization is given to 12 MILLION illegal aliens they will be eligible to bring their relatives into the U.S. 12 MILLION will turn into 50 MILLION or more!!!

    Complaining here does no good. DO SOMETHING.

    Help stop ANOTHER Amnesty:


    Numbersusa is a grassroot organization with 1.3 million members, who lobbies in Washington D.C. against illegal immigration and they will show what YOU can do to help. Be sure to sign up for their e-mails that will let you know when the latest bills dealing with illegal immigration are being introduced and how YOU can make a difference! Support Numbersusa!

  2. Part 1 of 2:
    Let's all start singing the chorus from West Side Story, "I like to be in America, okay for me in America, everything FREE in America, that's okay for me in America"! That song has been sung by millions as they quietly passed through and circumvented our nation's borders for over a half century.

    It is time to not only get down to business, but MEAN it. Lock and secure our nation's borders, require utilization of E-Verify, and place any and all ILLEGAL individuals with their children into citizenship/residency process internment camps until they gain legal status to be here in the USA.

    Our country already has a "path to citizenship." Most of the Commenters here, including myself, have Grandparents who entered the USA legally, and became USA citizens through THAT pathway. What the hell is wrong with US career politicians, that they must pervert an established system that did work, towards propping their lifetime careers?

    Any political refugee has a LEGAL avenue for entry, residence, and can utilize the established "path to citizenship." Too many criminals have managed to circumvent a working system, and THAT is what must be addressed. Lock and secure our borders is absolutely right, as Commenters have posted. Demand all employers utilize E-Verify.

    Imprison those who blantently disregard the laws of the land. The demand must be on BOTH sides, as the AFL-CIO has uncovered the sad fact that you have those employers who hire "under the table" and of course, there are those who will risk working for them (while avoiding the path for USA citizenship and priveledge/right to work), found in, "Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, questioned a proposal by the Senate group to require illegal immigrants to provide proof of employment before they can gain legal status. Trumka said it could exclude millions of workers "who cannot prove employment because they have been forced to work off the clock or have no employer by virtue of being independent contractors."" ENFORCE E-Verify and end this vicious cycle!

    While this mess is being sorted out by our system, put any and ALL ILLEGAL persons, including their anchor children, into USA sponsored interment camps, and allow them to be productive there until they LEGALLY complete the process of legal citizenship status. This is the only way to get compliance with so large and evasive illegal population. While under these conditions: Require proof of US citizenship or legal residency for entering US schools, driver's license, use of social services, etc.; lock and secure our USA borders to send the message we mean it.

    Blessings and Peace,

  3. Part 2 of 2:
    Like another Commenter, I lived in California, and watched for decades, those masses entering our country. In my younger years, I had worked in the fields and packing houses, side by side with these folks, witnessing jobs for legal Americans disappearing due to the blind eye of our political and law enforcement system. After nearly a half a century (that statement sure dates me), these folks have nearly bankrupted our country, and progressively put the likes and standards of a third world country in its place. If we required IQ tests on those ILLEGALLY here in the USA, we would discover that the majority AND their offspring, have seriously LOW IQs, and that now affects our American educational system in a profoundly negative way, and it is out of control, to say the very least. Most all of these children enter our American schools BEHIND, and spend their first five years in the American educational system catching up! That costs taxpayers billions of dollars yearly, and what will we, the taxpayer, get in return? This is the majority coming in, there will be always, the very extreme exceptional few, who are amazing, stellar, and fine examples of what should be (and in reality, is not).

    We must narrow the illegal's focus and options by insisting and requiring they secure legal status, and that will only happen by enforcing through internment camps towards legal status. Every other way has FAILED, time has already tested the other possibilities and has already provided the dismal outcomes.

    It is time to stop this madness. The USA, that we love and know, the high standards we all once subscribed to, must be preserved and protected, even if it makes some folks "uncomfortable" or "put out" because of their needing to use the internment camp route, but in all honesty, it would be a route that would be most compassionate, fair, and absolutely effective. Enter and live in this country LEGALLY people, and you won't have this problem.

    Hopefully, this immigration go round, is NOT more of the same clanging noise,bells, and whistles of failed policies of career politicians.

    Blessings and Peace,

  4. Why Las Vegas for this particular speech? Is he trying to punish Wynn, Fertitta, Adelson, and Trump for not supporting him?

  5. Lets be real. Obama is here for one thing only. To pick up another check from one of his employers. the unions...

    He will fly in, screw up traffic, kill a few jobs, read what his handlers wrote for him. Collect a few checks and fly back to Washington.

  6. He has no intention of securing the borders. This is just more political theatre at an extreme price to the taxpayers...
    They will do nothing but tell us what we want to hear and then do what they want to do and make more excuses for everything....

  7. If they want to be here, round them up and send them to Afghanistan to earn their way in, now we are going to put females on the front line, this is a valid way.

  8. IF YOU are willing to give away half of your projected retirement benefits you are entitled to have an opinion on letting SOME illegals stay. Otherwise, don't expect me and others to pay for your dumb choices. Can't figure 2 plus 2, huh? Wonder why our economy doesn't bounce back? We're still paying to absorb those amnestied in 1986 when politicos PROMISED TO SECURE THE BORDERS. We still don't have a database of student visas and who goes home and who doesn't. We still have Birthing Houses like those in the SF Bay where "vacationing" foreigners give birth--we have to END birth right citizenship for those here on a Work Program, VISA--anyone who is here with temporary permission CANNOT PASS ON CITIZENSHIP. K-12 keeps crying for more money--CCSD has MORE THAN 50,000 ILLEGAL STUDENTS at more than $12,000 per kid per year. There has been no increase in productivity, just an increase in unemployment as ILLEGALS STEAL OUR JOBS. What point is e-verify when you issue work permits to 15 million illegals?

  9. Rhetoric has been that it's unlikely that those who've been here for years and years "can't" be deported. Well, duh. How about those who've been here less than 10 years or even since the economy tanked in 2006 - 2007? They MUST GO HOME. LEGAL immigrants must pass a physical to rule out CONTAGIOUS DISEASES and health issues that would overwhelm our ER's / UMC. We need to REMOVE them from our nation. As "helpful" as the bleeding hearts are we cannot afford health care for the planet by taking in every individual with a serious health issue. Recall the illegals getting dialysis on an emergency basis at UMC for MORE THAN $100k each per year? How can our economy rebound?

  10. HALF the illegals are on one or more WELFARE PROGRAMS plus "non-government" but government-funded non-profit benies such as food banks. Daddy in a job stolen via I.D. theft, Mommy and kids on Welfare. Health care via UMC / ER and vaccines at free clinics at City health depts--paid for by the American taxpayers. Do you really think the courts won't overturn a two-caste society if we issued residency permits but did NOT provide 24/7 cradle-to-grave entitlements?

  11. IF they want to follow the path, there are hoops. IF NOT, they get endless welfare and free heath care--from childbirth of their next generation to grave for them. No need to conform to anything in the American culture, just keep on taking.

  12. We are a nation of LEGAL immigrants.

  13. Plan B: issue agriculture GUEST work permits to 1 million illegal graduates on a TEMPORARY basis while SECURING the borders and tracking VISAs and work permits. Additionally, issue regulations that those with any type of work permit to NOT have any means to "pass on" birth-right citizenship.