Immigration on Obama’s must-do list: White House official

White House Director of Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz

White House Director of Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz

By Elton Lugay

An undocumented sex worker said she would walk away from her underground trade once an immigration reform bill is approved in Congress. Prostitution, “Elvie” confided, is a stop-gap not the means to an end.

Elvie is one of 11 million undocumented immigrants the Obama administration is hoping to legalize through a law that would plug loopholes in the program.

That law is almost within reach, according to White House Director of Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz. She spoke at a February 5th conference call with journalists.

“The president has a great sense of urgency around this legislation,” she said in response to a question from The FilAm. “He is eager to see a bill introduced within the next month to six weeks.”

She quickly added, “He’s also reserving the right to introduce his own bill if this process gets bogged down in the Senate. We’re expecting a debate to be moving in to the Senate in the spring.”

She said young immigrants applying under the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) make their own decisions. Munoz said she would not venture to advice Dream Act youth on whether they should apply now or wait for the comprehensive law to be enacted.

“I wouldn’t presume to offer advice to individuals whether or not to apply. The right thing to do is to look at the Deferred Action program and make an individual decision. I would say for folks who would otherwise qualify for the Dream Act, Dreamers in particular who serve the military or complete two years of higher education that they would get an expedited path to citizenship,” she said.

President Obama presented his principles for immigration reform in Las Vegas Last month.

“He talked about this as his top priority, something that he has a great deal of urgency about,” said Munoz.

She added the President welcomed the fact that a bi-partisan group in the Senate appears to be coming around to crafting a new law.

“If all of this goes well very successfully for the immigration debate which will finally allow us to fix our broken immigration system in a commonsense way that advances the economy; that advances our values as a nation in particular a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” she said.

Obama’s policy proposals revolved around three major areas, said Munoz:

• Immigration Enforcement: ”It is important that we continue and strengthen this administration’s strong record of border as well as the interior; as well as to create a reliable mechanism for employers to verify that they hire legally.”

• The 11 million people without papers: “The President is proposing to hold those individuals accountable as well for getting on the right side of the law. They would be required to fulfill a host of responsibilities including getting a background check; learning English; paying taxes and getting in the back of the line behind people who are waiting in the legal immigration system.”

• The Family Immigration System: Munoz said there is a proposal to add visas in order to clear out the backlog and to update the Family Immigration System which hasn’t been updated since 1991. “This is to ensure that American families are reunited swiftly consistent with our values and needs as a nation.”

“The President’s sense of urgency on this should be clear in a very straightforward kind of way,” she said. “He is eager to get this done.”

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