Thanks to America's Voice for the update:





President Obama Renews Commitment to Move on
Comprehensive Immigration Reform this Year



President
Understands Voters' Desire for Common-Sense Action
>>



Washington,
DC - In an interview
with radio show host El Piolín
this week, President Obama renewed his
campaign pledge to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform legislation
this year, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who go
through background checks, pay taxes, and get at the back of the citizenship
line.  Following on the heels of comments by White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, President Obama's remarks
make it clear that his Administration plans to follow through on the
President's campaign trail promise to take up immigration reform during his
first year in office.  



On Tuesday, President Obama told
Eddie "Piolín" Sotelo
, "We're going to make sure that we begin
the process of dealing with the immigration system that's broken.  We're
going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so
that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens, like you
did, that they are able to do it; that it's cheaper, that it's faster, that
they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members. And then we've
got to have comprehensive immigration reform.  Now, you know, we need to
get started working on it now.  It's going to take some time to move that
forward, but I'm very committed to making it happen.  And we're going to
be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that
legislation drawn up over the next several months."



In addition to the President, prominent voices from the Obama Administration
and other key allies have offered support for tackling immigration reform this
year.  In
a recent interview with Hispanic journalists
, White House Chief of Staff
Rahm Emanuel noted the debate over the immigration-related components of the
State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and stated that "the arrow is
pointing in a different direction in relation to immigration politics in this
country."  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) highlighted
his intention
to pursue comprehensive immigration reform in 2009, stating
"I hope that we can get it done in September, and I feel confident that we can
get this done."  And labor leader John Wilhelm, President Hospitality
Industry, UNITE HERE! said
the "American people have embraced the proposition that has always been true
about our country: that we will succeed as a nation if we put our divisions
aside and work together.  As we work to rebuild this country, it is
important that all
workers and all employers are on an even playing field."



"We applaud President Obama for recognizing that common-sense immigration
reform is urgently needed," said Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America's
Voice. "He clearly understands the urgency of dealing with an issue that has
become a symbol of how politicians in Washington duck tough problems rather
than solve them.  He also gets that a smart approach to reform is
consistent with the drive to right the economy.  That is why we expect the
President's approach to comprehensive immigration reform will be pro-worker,
pro-taxpayer, pro-rule of law, and pro-family.



"We believe that the 2009 version of comprehensive reform should prioritize the
following key elements: 1) mount an aggressive crack down on bad actor
employers who engage in wage theft, misclassification of independent
contractors, and other forms of exploitation, practices which conspire to
undermine the working conditions of all
lower-wage workers; 2) devise and implement a workable employee verification
system that significantly reduces illegal hiring, combined with aggressive
enforcement against those who end run the system; 3) institute a program that
ensures immigrants in the U.S. without authorization will come forward, pass
background checks, study English, pay taxes and get to the back of the
citizenship line; and 4) reduce the family reunification backlogs to address
the legitimate equity concerns of those waiting in line outside the country.



"This combination will help end illegal immigration, level the playing field
for law-abiding workers and employers, reduce worker exploitation and abuse,
lift wages for all lower-wage workers, generate billions in tax revenues from
both employers and workers who have been operating off the books, and unite
families in a timely fashion.  Other components will and should be
considered, but the priority should be to deal with presence of 12 million
undocumented workers already here, restore integrity to low wage labor markets,
treat all workers fairly, increase tax compliance, and enforce labor and
immigration laws in a way that supports these objectives rather than undermines
them."  >>