January 29, 2014


Obama Punts on Immigration (GABRIEL ARANA JANUARY 29, 2014, American Prospect)

[T]here are at least two areas where progressives say the president should have pushed harder last night: immigration and protections for gay, lesbian, and transgender people in the workplace. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would outlaw workplace discrimination against LGBT people, passed the Senate in November but has floundered in the House, where Speaker John Boehner, who has said publicly the legislation is unnecessary, said he will not bring it to a floor vote. Obama made no mention of ENDA last night, and has on a number of occasions downplayed the use of executive action to ensure rights for LGBT workers.

The president did, however, address immigration, weaving the topic into the broader theme of spurring economic growth. "If we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement and fix our broken immigration system," Obama said. "Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted. I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same." But the issue got less airtime this year than last year, when post-election soul-searching from defeated Republicans made many hopeful the GOP would move forward on immigration as a way to placate Latino voters. 

Some supporters of immigration reform say this was a calculated political move. "In the crazy world of Washington, D.C., the more [the president] says about immigration reform, the more Republicans are likely to resist it," says Frank Sharry, executive director of immigrant-rights group America's Voice. "In fact, you could say that he wants immigration reform legislation so badly, he downplayed it in the speech." 

Posted by at January 29, 2014 1:23 PM

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