Obama to hold immigration-reform meeting

April 19, 2011 at 4:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama will lose a Democratic congressman's re-election support if he doesn't do more to reform immigration laws, the lawmaker said.

"I want to support Barack Obama for re-election," Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., told MSNBC Monday. "But the lack of progress on immigration reform and the lack of action that Barack Obama, our president, has -- the discretion he has -- is really making that job difficult for me."

Gutierrez told a large crowd in Chicago Saturday Obama should use his executive powers to stop the deportation of immigrants with children who are U.S. citizens.

Children of immigrant families who are U.S. citizens have long created a dilemma for Congress as it has tried to control immigration. People born in the United States automatically become U.S. citizens but American children cannot petition for their parents to become legal U.S. residents until the children are at least 21 years old.

Gutierrez's MSNBC comments came as Obama was to hold a high-profile White House meeting Tuesday to show broad and diverse support for immigration-law overhaul.

The meeting of "business, law enforcement, faith and current and former elected and appointed leaders" will focus on "fixing our nation's broken immigration system to meet our 21st century economic and national security needs," the White House said in a statement Monday night.

The bipartisan meeting is to include Republican former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, independent New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Democratic San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, appointed by Democratic Mayor Michael Nutter after Ramsey resigned as Washington metropolitan police chief.

Schwarzenegger, an Austrian immigrant, proposed immigration reform when he was governor and told the Los Angeles Times in 2008 reform plans were "a disaster in Washington."

Bloomberg called for immigration reform in congressional testimony last fall and criticized lawmakers for not addressing the issue.

"What frustrates the American public ... is that we can't understand why you guys complain about immigrants coming over the border illegally and then don't do anything about it," Bloomberg told the House Judiciary Committee Sept. 30.

Critics have accused Obama of dragging his feet on immigration reform since December.

He pushed last year for passage of the Dream Act, which would have provided a path to legal residency for young illegal immigrants through college enrollment and military service. But after the bill died in the Senate Dec. 18, Obama has been virtually silent about immigration reform, critics charge.

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