On the one-year anniversary of the Senate bill, Obama went on the
attack after a long period of trying to encourage progress in the
"Unfortunately, Republicans in the House of Representatives have
repeatedly failed to take action, seemingly preferring the status
quo of a broken immigration system over meaningful reform," Obama
said in a statement released by the White House.
"I urge House Republicans to listen to the will of the American
people and bring immigration reform to the House floor for a vote,"
He repeated that plea in a private conversation with House Majority
Leader Eric Cantor, the second-ranking House Republican said.
The Senate legislation, unveiled on April 16, 2013, and passed by
the full Senate in June, has remained stalled in the Republican-led
House, despite a strong vote by the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Over the past few months, there has been little evidence the House
would make progress in this mid-term election year in passing
comprehensive immigration reform, even in a piecemeal fashion.
Instead, Republicans have devoted much of their efforts to blasting
Obama's landmark healthcare law and calling for its repeal.
Obama has warned that a failure by Congress to pass legislation
could prompt him to look for ways to use his executive powers to
make some limited advances on U.S. immigration policy.
Cantor responded to Obama with a statement later on Wednesday,
saying, "After five years, President Obama still has not learned how
to effectively work with Congress to get things done. You do not
attack the very people you hope to engage in a serious dialogue."
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Cantor's statement concluded with a plea for Obama to work with
Congress on addressing "the issues facing working middle-class
Americans" who are struggling.
In February, House Speaker John Boehner floated a set of principles
for immigration legislation, which included legalizing some of those
who entered the United States illegally or overstayed their visas.
But conservative Republicans balked and warned their leaders to
avoid such a divisive fight in this election year, when they are
hoping to add to their House majority and take control of the
Instead of pursuing comprehensive immigration reform, so far, the
House Judiciary Committee has focused mainly on clamping down on
illegal entries and ferreting out undocumented residents.
More than 11 million people are thought to be in the United States
illegally. Many are children brought over the southern U.S. border
from Mexico by their parents, many of whom are employed by American
firms in need of unskilled labor.
(Reporting by Richard Cowan; editing by Tom Brown)
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