Obama keeps immigration debate alive ... from Korea

McClatchy Washington BureauApril 25, 2014 

South Korea Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama gestures as he speaks during a joint news conference with South Korean President Park Geun-hye at the Blue House, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Seoul, South Korea.


President Barack Obama continues to lobby for an immigration overhaul from 7,000 miles away. Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for servicemembers at a war memorial in Seoul, Korea, President Obama told the newest citizens they were an example of how “America is strengthened by immigrants.”

Obama said attracting “the best and brightest” immigrants was critical to the nation’s way of life.

“It is central to who we are; it's in our DNA,” he said. “It's part of our creed. And that means moving forward we've got to fix our broken immigration system and pass common-sense immigration reform.”

The debate over immigration is front and center again as leaders on both sides of the aisle have used the issue to score political points during midterm campaign season. But House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, brought up the matter to criticize members of his own party.

On Thursday, during a speech to a local rotary club in his home district. Boehner mocked his Republican colleagues for being afraid to tackle the controversial debate, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

"Here's the attitude. Ohhhh. Don't make me do this. Ohhhh. This is too hard," Boehner said, according to the Enquirer.

Obama has brought up the issue repeatedly in the last several months. He blamed House Republican leaders for failing to bring an immigration vote to the floor. Last month, he directed Department of Homeland Security chief Jeh Johnson to review enforcement policies as a means to reduce deportations. A group of GOP senators responded on Thursday accusing Obama with trying to abandon basic immigration enforcement.

The criticism is not only coming from the right. Many of the same Latino groups that helped Obama gain 70 percent of the Latino vote in the last election have attacked him for not doing more to reduce the record breaking deportations. The National People’s Action and the National Domestic Workers Alliance are organizing a rally in front of the White House Monday to protest the impacts deportation has on immigrant families.

Earlier this year, Boehner introduced a set of immigration principles that would have given legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. But his Republican colleagues failed to support the effort. Some opponents argue that Obama can’t be trusted to enforce any immigration laws they pass.

"We get elected to make choices," he said in his Rotary speech. "We get elected to solve problems and it's remarkable to me how many of my colleagues just don't want to ... They'll take the path of least resistance.".

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