WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama on Thursday blamed immigration policy gridlock on “political posturing and special interest wrangling.”
In a speech Thursday, Obama took Republicans to task, in particular 11 GOP senators who supported recent efforts to improve the immigration system. He did not name any in particular, but told his largely supportive audience at American University that those lawmakers had succumbed to the “pressures of partisanship and election-year politics.”
Seeking to rally new momentum to an issue that many advocates had hoped would be completed by this point, Obama laid out his rationale for a comprehensive approach to fixing what he and others, Republicans included, say is a broken immigration system.
He said the problem cannot be solved “only with fences and border patrols” but said the government should be held accountable for its responsibility to secure the border. Obama also said businesses should face consequences for knowingly employing illegal immigrants and that those who enter the country illegally should own up to their actions before they can begin the process of becoming citizens.
“The question now is whether we will have the courage and the political will to pass a bill through Congress, to finally get it done,” the president said. “I’m ready to move forward, the majority of Democrats are ready to move forward and I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward. But the fact is that without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem.”
“Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes,” he said. “That is the political and mathematical reality.”