President Obama spoke today in Las Vegas about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.  His blueprint consists of four components:

  1. Continuing efforts to strengthen border security;
  2. ‘Cracking down’ (whatever that means) on employers who continue to hire undocumented workers;
  3. Earned U.S. citizenship for illegal immigrants, including payment of back taxes with penalties, going to the back of the line, learning English and passing background checks; and
  4. ‘Streamling’ legal immigration for families, workers and employers.

Expect the president’s proposed pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants (component no. 3) to meet the most resistance in a GOP-led House of Representatives.  Defining what constitutes an appropriate ‘crackdown’ on employers who hire undocumented workers and the ‘streamlining’ of legal immigration will further bog down the effort.  The White House Fact Sheet, in fact, released in tandem with the president’s speech, proposes expanding qualifying family relationships to include a permanent same-sex partner.  Rightly or wrongly, get ready for fireworks on that.

Despite the vicissitudes inherent in this contentious political debate, Obama’s push, taken in conjunction with the recent establishment of bipartisan working groups on immigration reform in both Houses of Congress, bodes well for passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill in 2013, likely late in the year.  Stay tuned to Golden Gate Immigration for further news and commentary on this seminal American debate.