16 April 2012

Obama promises to reform US immigration early in second term

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President Barack Obama has promised to reform the US immigration system early in his second term if he is re-elected in November.

US visa

President Obama has promised to tackle the US immigration system in his second term.

President Obama made US immigration reform a cornerstone of his election manifesto in 2008 yet his failure to do so has been used by his opponents as a means to discredit him.

Mr Obama did manage to increase America visa application rates from the growing economies of China and India yet his main immigration hopeful, the DREAM Act, stalled in Congress.

However, the president has always maintained his inability to secure widespread reform is due to the lack of support in the House of Representatives and the Senate, the former of which has a Republican Majority.

Speaking at the CEO Summit of the Americas in Colombia, Mr Obama reiterated his commitment to addressing the immigration system in America, claiming it is "something I care deeply about. It's personal to me". In order to achieve the desired change, Mr Obama said Republicans would either have to stand aside, or be willing to compromise.

"What we need is a change either of Congress or we need Republicans to change their mind, and I think this has to be an important debate during — throughout the country."

Many have claimed the president's comments were aimed solely to appeal to the Hispanic community, a demographic which overwhelmingly supported Mr Obama in 2008 but which is seen as a possibly unpredictable demographic this year.

Mr Obama also took the opportunity to paint his likely opponent, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, as overly tough on immigration. The president said Mr Romney supports laws which would allow people to be stopped and searched to determine their immigration status.

Mr Romney's campaign the former governor supports laws which punish employers who do not check the legal status of workers they employ and accused Mr Obama of merely pandering to the Hispanic community.

"President Obama only talks about immigration reform when he's seeking votes," said Mr Romney's spokesperson. "Then-candidate Obama promised to tackle immigration reform in his first year. More than three years into his term, America is still waiting for his immigration plan."


The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.

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