Immigration reform on the front burner after debt and budget deal

President Obama told Univision in an interview that he was going to renew his push for comprenehsive immigration reform once the battles over the budget and debt ceiling were resolved.


President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that stalled immigration reform would be a top priority once the fiscal crisis has been resolved.

"Once that's done, you know, the day after, I'm going to be pushing to say, call a vote on immigration reform," he told the Los Angeles affiliate of Spanish-language television network Univision.

The president's domestic agenda has been sidetracked in his second term by one problem after another. As he coped with the revelation of domestic surveillance programs, chemical weapons in Syria, and a fiscal battle that has shut down the U.S. government and threatens a debt default, immigration has been relegated to the back burner.

But Obama, who won re-election with overwhelming Hispanic backing, had hoped to make reforms easing the plight of the 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

In June, the Senate passed an immigration overhaul, but House of Representatives Republicans are divided over the granting of legal status to those in the country illegally, a step many see as rewarding lawbreakers.

Although the president had sought comprehensive reform, he said last month he would be open to the House taking a piece-by-piece approach if that would get the job done.

Obama on Tuesday blamed House Speaker John Boehner for preventing immigration from coming up for a vote.

"We had a very strong Democratic and Republican vote in the Senate," he said. "The only thing right now that's holding it back is, again, Speaker Boehner not willing to call the bill on the floor of the House of Representatives."

The president has said repeatedly that he would not sign an immigration bill unless it had an amnesty provision. Senate Democrats have echoed that sentiment.

The chances of the House passing amnesty are less than zero. This leaves both chambers in exactly the same position they were after the Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform earlier this year.

No deal is possible unless Obama and the Democrats are willing to take amnesty off the table. In exchange for more liberal guest worker provisions and the DREAM act, Obama may indeed deep six amnesty. But that's not the only problem with the bill. Fixing inadequate border security provisions in the bill is high on the GOP 's list of revisions.

A deal is possible under those circumstances, but not probable. Republicans will want far stronger border security measures than the Democrats are willing to take and Republicans won't give the Democrats everything they want on visa reform and the guest worker program. It just looks like too many moving parts for the two sides to manage.

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