In State of the Union Address Obama will push immigration reform — but how hard?

Byron York
Washington Examiner

Of all the issues that could add to the self-inflicted wounds of Democratic leaders in Congress and the White House, comprehensive immigration reform is perhaps at the top of the list. After the health care fiasco, the unpassable-in-the-Senate cap-and-trade legislation, and lingering public unhappiness with the stimulus, would Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid really turn their attention to comprehensive immigration reform in this election year?

The answer is yes. The latest indication that Obama plans to move ahead on his commitment to comprehensive reform is in a set of videos released by the White House to mark the president’s first year in office. The videos, in which cabinet members explain their goals for the coming year, are on the White House website. In one of them, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano touts her department’s efforts in 2009 to deploy “more people, technology, and resources” at the nation’s borders. In 2010, Napolitano says, Homeland Security will work on aviation security, information sharing, border security, and: “We will pursue comprehensive immigration reform to address longstanding problems with our immigration system.”

But just how committed is the White House to the passage of a reform bill? Napolitano’s immigration pledge was brought up at Tuesday’s White House briefing. “What’s this going to look like?” a reporter asked press secretary Robert Gibbs.

“Well, I think one of the things the President will — has talked about and one of the things you’ll hear him mention [in the State of the Union speech] and in the coming days, similar to what I’ve said on cap and trade, and that is that if — we’ve started a process on this and if Congress can put together the way forward, a coalition to get the way forward, then it’s something we’ll work through,” Gibbs said.

Does that sound like a White House with a strong commitment to pursuing comprehensive immigration reform this year?

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