New Year offers new prospects for immigration overhaul

Housing market fuelled by immigrantsWith his agenda having been tainted by the missteps and confrontations of last year, President Barack Obama is commencing 2014 still clinging onto the hope that he can achieve a lasting legislative win by overhauling the broken immigration system of the United States.

Doing so will require a careful and deft use of his powers, which combine a public campaign with quiet outreach to Congress behind the scenes, something that both advocates of immigration reform and lawmakers see as being a major weakness with the current White House administration.  Obama and John Boehner, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, have both sent signals in recent weeks that have increased the expectation that the first truly comprehensive overhaul of current immigration laws in almost three decades could actually take place this year, fulfilling a Presidential promise that is seen as long overdue by many in the Latino community.

Obama has recently stopped insisting that the House pass the same bill that was passed by the Senate in June last year and has accepted the idea of achieving reform using the House’s preferred step-by-step approach, albeit with the caveat that “we’re going to have to do it all.”  Meanwhile, Boehner has made moves of his own by hiring immigration expert Rebecca Tallent and distancing himself from the extremist Tea Party division of the Republican Party.

“We believe immigration reform is going to pass,” Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, claimed on Tuesday.  “It’s going to pass, you know, and it’s up to the House to decide when.  But it’s going to happen.”