Obama to push citizenship for undocumented

President Barack Obama can be expected to move swiftly on immigration reform, according to a Jan. 12 article in the New York Times, and he can be expected to propose changes in one comprehensive bill, resisting efforts by some Republicans to chop the changes up into tiny pieces.

The president is opposed to legislation that would separately deal with undocumented youth, migrant farmworkers and highly- skilled foreign workers, for example, an approach backed by some in the GOP, says Times writer Julia Preston.

That piecemeal approach is backed by Florida tea party Sen. Marco Rubio.

Another position the Times says the president will take is one of opposition to any measure that does not allow immigrants who gain legal status to eventually become American citizens. The president’s plan may be put forward in the State of the Union message next month.

House Republicans are expected to fight the administration but “groups backing the overhaul say they are bigger and better organized than in the past. Last month, the labor movement, including the AFL-CIO and other sometimes-warring factions, affirmed a common strategy. Last week the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it would work with labor, Latino and church organizations to pass the overhaul this year,” the Times reports.

The AFL-CIO and the entire labor movement have long held that immigration reform, featuring a path to citizenship, not only would raise wages and working conditions for immigrant workers, but also would benefit workers in general throughout the economy.

This contention is backed up dramatically in a newly-released report by the University of Southern California’s Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration. The report, issued in December 2012, is entitled “Citizen Gain: The Economic Benefits of Naturalization for Immigrants and the Economy.”

The report concludes that naturalization for undocumented immigrants would not only increase their individual earnings by about 10 percent but would increase their aggregate earnings by over $40 billion in the next 10 years, with the increased earnings stimulating the entire economy and significantly boosting gross domestic product.

A bipartisan group of senators has been meeting to write a comprehensive immigration bill, with the goal of introducing legislation as early as March and having a vote in the Senate no later than August, the Times reports.

“This is so important now to both parties that neither the fiscal cliff nor guns will get in the way,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York.

Critical to helping the cause is the record number of Latinos who voted last November, casting 71 percent of their votes for Obama. Millions of them were disgusted with the Republicans’ anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric.

After the election, many Republicans, including House Speaker John Boehner, said it was time for the GOP to find a more “positive” approach to immigration.

Photo: Young people, get help with documents and filling for the Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals applications at Casa de Maryland, Aug. 15, 2012. Jose Luis Magana/AP


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.