WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will try to boost momentum for a sweeping bill to reform the U.S. immigration system on Tuesday with remarks that highlight the proposed law’s economic and national security benefits, a White House official said.
Obama, who won re-election last year thanks in part to strong support from Latino voters, has made immigration reform a top priority of his second term, but the president has not given a major public address on the issue for some time, reflecting a White House strategy of not wanting to get in the way of bipartisan progress in the U.S. Senate.
His speech at 10:20 a.m. will be his first major departure from that strategy. A vote on the bill in the Senate is expected by late June.
“The president will again praise the bipartisan progress that continues to be made in the Senate, which has its first floor vote on the bill this week,” the official said.
Obama would also note the “broad coalition” of leaders who support the principles of increasing U.S. border security, giving a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented workers, the official said.
Leaders from business, labor, the religious community, and law enforcement would join Republican and Democratic elected officials at the event.
The Senate bill would authorize billions of dollars in new spending for enhanced border security and would create new visa programs for high- and low-skilled workers.
The bill, which has broad support from Obama’s Democrats, will need backing from some Republicans to get the minimum of 60 votes needed to pass in the 100-member Senate. Supporters of the bill hope it gets well beyond that threshold to give it momentum in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, where the pathway to citizenship provisions face more skepticism. (Editing by Mohammad Zargham)