The Washington Post

Obama presses case for immigration reform

President Obama is set to travel to Texas tomorrow, where he’ll renew his push for immigration reform. Hoping to take control of tomorrow’s event, the White House is distributing a new set of talking points — sent my way by a source — that instructs outside allies and surrogagates to frame the immigration question as an economic and law-and-order issue, in order to diffuse its polarizing nature.

The talking points also suggest that Obama’s message will rest heavily on the assertion that his administration has dealt with people’s preliminary objection to immigration reform by successfully tackling border security, meaning it’s now time for a permanent solution:

· As the President will outline tomorrow, immigration reform is an economic imperative, that’s why so many businesses and leaders from across the ideological spectrum are calling for reform.

· The President believes we need to reform our immigration system so that as a nation we live up to our values and heritage as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws.

· We must fix our current system. Millions of folks are living in the shadows and are vulnerable to businesses that skirt taxes, pay workers less than the minimum wage, or cut corners with health and safety. This also puts companies who follow those rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work, at an unfair disadvantage.

· Reforming our system will eliminate a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everyone else, ultimately strengthening the middle class.

· In recent years, among the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security. Over the past two years we have answered those concerns by strengthening border security beyond what many believed was possible. We’ve dedicated unprecedented resources to our borders, implemented smarter, more strategic interior and worksite enforcement policies, and improved our legal immigration system.

· These efforts have had real results. The number of border patrol agents today is double what it was in 2004. We’ve deployed unmanned aerial vehicles that now patrol the border from Texas to California.

This Congress, of course, is highly unlikely to act on Obama’s call for reform. But showcasing Obama’s commitment on the issue — even absent any action in Congress — can help with Latino turnout in 2012, in battleground states and in key Congressional races. And it could force Republicans — particularly the 2012 presidential hopefuls who are running to the right in preparation for a primary — to stake out an ever harder line on immigration, even as leading party strategists are warning that the GOP needs to rethink its position on the issue lest it get swamped by looming demographic change.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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