It looks as if President Obama is hoping to settle the immigration reform issue sooner than later. During a recent meeting with faith leaders which included representatives from the Christina, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and Mormons faiths, Obama stated that he wants Senate to pass an immigration bill within the next few months. However, he also said he is willing to be a little forgiving with that timeline.
Participants of the private meeting said that President Obama was enthusiastic about the work that is already in motion in the Senate-where a mixed group of four Republicans, four Democrats and eight senators are working on legislation. The White House has its own immigration bill in the works, but Obama has stressed to the faith leaders that he will only send it to Capitol Hill if the Senate’s effort does not go through.
The meeting lasted over an hour and after speaking for a short while on the topic, Obama let each religious group discuss their own priorities and concerns regarding the immigration reform.
According to one of the members, Obama made it known that he hopes to see a bill passed in the next few months. Jim Wallis, President of Sojourners which is a Christian social justice group, reported to CNN, “I really sensed that this is a high priority for him. We are all looking at something being introduced this month and then the bill passing in May or June. We are all hoping that kind of time frame could work.”
Reverend Gabriel Salguero on the National Latino Evangelical Coalition backed up Wallis’ statement by saying: “The president understood our sense of urgency. He understands there’s a very narrow window.”
After Obama’s re-election in November 2012, the immigration reform got bumped up on Washington’s agenda. Ten percent of the electorate was Hispanic voters, and Obama gained more than 2/3 of their votes, and raised some concern among the Republicans regarding their ability to appeal to the voting bloc.
Immigration laws have become a top priority for Asians in the United States. Like the Hispanics, Asians also favored Obama in the presidential race, but made up a smaller number in the electorate.
Faith leaders, like those at last week’s meeting, have played a big part in influencing Republicans to back the immigration laws. Rev. Samuel Rodriguez of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, who attended the meeting, stated that Republicans “must cross the Jordan of immigration reform. Otherwise, they will stay in the desert of a political minority party” in order to regain their standing with Hispanics. He also adds, “Otherwise, [the Republicans] will stay in the desert of a political minority party.”
The meeting was a step in the right direction, according to Rodriquez. He shared with ABC/Univision, “This is the year. “I walked out of that meeting with a greater sense of optimism, with the strong chance of passing comprehensive immigration reform this year.”
The faith leaders from the meeting stated that they are mostly in agreement with Obama on what should be included in the immigration bill, especially on the demand to offer illegal immigrants a way to gain citizenship. They don’t, however, see eye-to-eye with the president regarding his belief that gays and lesbians should be given equal rights under the upcoming immigration law.
The new immigration laws have been the hot topic in Washington for some time now and according to the members of this important meeting, President Obama is eager to see the end of it. The private meeting with the various faith leaders was a New immigration laws can mean fairer regulations for both legal and illegal immigrants.
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