Even though the Congressional Budget Office determined that comprehensive immigration reform legislation would lower the wages of working class Americans in a sluggish economy, President Barack Obama said on Thursday that he has not heard of a good reason for opposing immigration reform legislation.
Speaking at the White House during a “week of escalation” by immigration activists and a day after House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) indicated he may bring up immigration reform legislation this year in the House, Obama said, “if there’s a good reason not to pass this common-sense reform, I haven’t heard it. So anyone still standing in the way of this bipartisan reform should at least have to explain why.”
Obama pressed for a “pathway to earned citizenship” and said Congress needed to pass immigration reform this year because, “We have kicked this particular can down the road for too long.”
“This reform comes as close to anything we’ve got to a law that will benefit everybody now and far into the future, so let’s see if we can get this done and let’s see if we can get it done this year,” he said. “Republicans in the House, including the speaker, have said we should act, so let’s not wait. It doesn’t get easier to just put it off, let’s do it now. Let’s not delay. Let’s get this done. And let’s do it in a bipartisan fashion.”
Obama thanked immigration reform activists and urged them to keep “putting pressure on all of us” to get immigration reform done. House Republicans are reportedly working on various pieces of piecemeal bills to eventually get to conference with the Senate, where immigration reform proponents and opponents have indicated a provision to give all of the country’s illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship will prevail.
Immigration reform opponents criticized lawmakers for passing a bill many, like with Obamacare, did not read, and the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Senate’s immigration bill would lower the wages of working class Americans of all backgrounds without even solving the illegal immigration problem. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents also opposed the Senate’s immigration bill because it would hamper the ability of law enforcement officials to enforce the country’s immigration laws in the nation’s interior. Some of the strongest opponents of the immigration bill have been black Americans and working-class minorities.
The Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) held a massive rally in Washington, D.C. in July that attracted progressives, conservatives, and working class Americans of all races in opposition to an immigration bill they said they were opposed to because it would depress their wages and prevent them from moving up the economic ladder. Leah Durant, the founder of the BALA, told Breitbart News on numerous occasions that “now is not time to permit another amnesty adding millions more workers to swamp our labor markets and dramatically increase competition for scare U.S. jobs.”
She said supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are terrified of Americans that groups like the BALA have galvanized because the, “fight against illegal immigration, which has traditionally been considered part of a conservative agenda, is now attracting the broad support of everyday Americans–blacks and whites, religious and non-religious, Democrats and Republicans, men and women who run the gamut from progressive to conservative.”