Julia Preston reports in the New York Times:
While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Obama plans to begin addressing the countryâ€™s immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.Best guess: Obama is counting on getting it passed by having his minions use the R word to smear opponents.
Mr. Obama will frame the new effort â€” likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue â€” as â€?policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system,â€? said the official, Cecilia Mu?±oz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.
Mr. Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration groups, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.
Some White House officials said that immigration would not take precedence over the health care and energy proposals that Mr. Obama has identified as priorities. But the timetable is consistent with pledges Mr. Obama made to Hispanic groups in last yearâ€™s campaign.
He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Mr. Obama in the election.
â€?He intends to start the debate this year,â€? Ms. Mu?±oz said. ...
Debate is still under way among administration officials about the precise timing and strategy. For example, it is unclear who will take up the Obama initiative in Congress....
The White House is calculating that public support for fixing the immigration system, which is widely acknowledged to be broken, will outweigh opposition from voters who argue that immigrants take jobs from Americans.
Meanwhile, the Boston Globe reports:
Obama's Aunt Gets Reprieve in Asylum CaseI bet these federal employees are going all out to throw out their boss's aunt.
A federal immigration judge says President Obama's aunt, who has stayed in the United States illegally for years, will be allowed to remain in the country until at least next year.
Judge Leonard Shapiro said Wednesday he would hear Zeituni Onyango's political asylum case on February 4, 2010.
Onyango, who is the half sister of the president's late father, applied for political asylum in 2002 due to violence in her native Kenya, according to her spokesman, Mike Rogers. Onyango was a legal resident of the United States at the time and had received a Social Security card a year earlier.
Onyango's asylum request was turned down in 2004, and she has been living in the U.S. illegally since then, after twice appealing and twice being ordered to leave.
Wednesday's hearing at the U.S. Immigration Court in Boston was closed to the media at the request of Margaret Wong, Onyango's attorney. Lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security are defending an order to deport Onyango.
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt says President Obama is staying out of the matter and that "the president believes that the case should run its ordinary course."I.e., run forever until the aunt dies of old age. Look, it's been five years so far. Why do we need to wait a sixth year for a third hearing on whether the aunt of the most popular man in Kenya needs political asylum from Kenya?
When the initial appearance was over, Onyango, wearing a red wig and dark glasses, was escorted through a side door of the courthouse to avoid news cameras staking out the main entrances.Definitely, a net tax contributor. No doubt about that.
Onyango lives in public housing in South Boston and volunteers as a health advocate for people in her housing complex. She reportedly attended inauguration events for her nephew in January accompanied by her lawyer.