President Obama's Las Vegas Speech Puts a Human Face on Immigration
In an emotionally rousing speech in a Las Vegas high school gymnasium, President Obama called for action on immigration reform. Just a day after the bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" surprised the public with its plan to overhaul immigration law, the President was careful to say the Senators plan echoed his own ideas from the campaign trail.
But while Monday's presentation spearheaded by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and John McCain (R-Ariz) was heavy on logistics, the President aimed to humanize this contentious issue, with his populist choice of venue (high school gym) in a immigrant-heavy swing state with a high population of Latinos and Asians. "This is not just a debate about policy. It's about people," Obama declared, later adding, "Most of us used to be them."
When you look at them, Obama's main points were not dissimilar to the Senate plan:
"First, I believe we need to stay focused on enforcement."
"Second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally."
"Third, we have to bring our legal immigration system into the 21st century, because it no longer reflects the realities of our time."
#ImmigrationReform, Las Vegas, and President Obama were all trending on Twitter during the speech, and the president's inclusive and warm rhetoric won applause on social media :
Unless you are one of the first Americans, you came from somewhere else, or someone brought you! #weareallimmigrants— SayuBhojwani (@SayuBhojwani) January 29, 2013
Shorter Obama: Make the pathway for citizenship clear for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the US. Yes, POTUS #immigration— The Root (@TheRoot247) January 29, 2013
Which is not to say that some immigration-watchers were underwhelmed by the President's proposal:
Increased enforcement at borders and increased punishment of business orders that hire undocumenteds? Tsk, tsk, tsk...— Taz Ahmed (@TazzyStar) January 29, 2013
I am waiting to hear something new...I guess whats new is that its being said in #2013. Feels like Rs and Ds are in consensus #immigration— Gaby Pacheco (@GabyPacheco1) January 29, 2013
That's it? #immigrationreform— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 29, 2013
But the President's speech wasn't just about humanizing and soft-selling immigration. Obama is calling for action, and soon:
"If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal"
Could the time for bipartisan action on immigration reform really be here?