President Barack Obama smiles as he reacts to a buzzing sound from the back of the room as he speaks about immigration reform, Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The Senate is preparing to cast the first votes on a landmark bill that offers the best chance in decades to remake the nation’s immigration system and offer eventual citizenship to millions.
Even though President Barack Obama (pictured at podium) said last week he wants to see immigration reform legislation passed by Congress by the end of summer, several amendments to the current Senate bill by Republicans risk deepening the division along party lines. Tuesday morning, the President showed support for commonsense reform legislation, aiming to address the hot-button immigration issue and encourage Senators to pass the bill.
Representatives from law enforcement, business leaders, labor organizers, leaders of the interfaith community, and Republican- and- Democratic-elected officials who all want to see a fair bill passed joined President Obama onstage.
“This week, the Senate will consider a common-sense, bipartisan bill that is the best chance we’ve had in years to fix our broken immigration system,” said the President, speaking from the East Room of the White House. “To truly deal with this issue Congress needs to act. And that moment is now.
“There’s no good reason to play procedural games or engage in obstruction just to block the best chance we’ve had in years to address this problem in a way that’s fair to middle-class families, to business owners, to legal immigrants,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s not who we are. We owe it to America to do better. We owe it to the dreamers to do better. We owe it to the young people.”
Watch the President talk about the importance of the immigration bill here:
Tolu Olubunmi, a Nigerian immigrant, was present. Olubunmi worked as an unpaid volunteer in support of passing the DREAM Act and now works as a legislative assistant for the Center for Community Change.
Former Chief of D.C. Police and current Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey was also in attendance. Ramsey has worked alongside the Obama administration in times past, most recently collaborating with Vice President Joe Biden on the gun violence issue.
Marlon Hill, former president of the Caribbean Bar Association, was also onstage. Hill has worked on immigration issues extensively in a variety of capacities and is also the founding partner of the Delancy HillLaw Firm in Miami.
Watch the President call out an audience member over ringing phone during his speech here: