Obama to Discuss Immigration at Cinco de Mayo Reception

President Barack Obama is expected to make remarks about the country's debate on immigration reform tonight as he hosts the White House's annual Cinco de Mayo reception in celebration of Mexican heritage.

Last year, Obama promised voters that his administration would work towards comprehensive immigration reform and upholding "America's tradition of a nation of laws and a nation of immigration."

"Those things aren't contradictory, they're complementary," Obama said at the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast. "That's why I'm committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform."

But now, in an election year with deep partisan divides in Congress over health care reform and other issues, immigration reform has become an uphill battle.

"It's a matter of political will," President Obama said last week, according to the New York Times.

"We've gone through a very tough year, and I've been driving Congress pretty hard," he added.

Meanwhile, activists have been adamant in their support for pushing the legislation through this year.

Over 80,000 people participated in demonstrations over the weekend advocating for reform, which leaders from the faith community have called a "divine mandate" expressing our "interrelatedness and interdependence with every child of God."

Last Thursday, a group of Democratic Senators headed by Harry Reid (D-Nev.) unveiled a sweeping plan for nationwide immigration reform that has been praised for its timeliness, but criticized for its emphasis on enforcement.

Church World Service President John McCullough was among those concerned over the proposal's enforcement measures, but noted the plan as a "welcome contrast" to Arizona's recent immigration law, which the executive said is not a "solution, it's a shame."

The Arizona law, which has drawn wide criticism from President Obama among others, gives law enforcement officers power to demand documentation from residents who are stopped for any misdemeanor offenses. Many observers have feared the law will lead to racial profiling and other social ills.

"History alone tells us nothing good comes from heightened police action against a group of people," McCullough said.

Meanwhile, recent Gallup Poll results show that nearly 40 percent of Americans see immigration reform as extremely important for the government to deal with this year.

The poll revealed that 42 percent of Americans see halting the flow of illegal immigrants as the most pressing part of the issue, while 36 percent say that developing a plan to deal with illegals already in the U.S. is the priority.

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