President Obama says immigration is his major second-term priority, on par with his push for health care in his first term, according to an interview aired Sunday that continues to boost the issue to the top of the political conversation.d
“Fixing our broken immigration system is a top priority. I will introduce legislation in the first year to get that done,” Mr. Obama told NBC‘s “Meet the Press” host David Gregory, who had asked the president what the second-term equivalent would be to his all-encompassing push for health care during his first term.
The immigration pledge is similar to a vow Mr. Obama made four years ago to Hispanic audiences, when he also promised to take up immigration in his first year in office, only to let it fall behind the economic stimulus, climate change and health care.
But Democrats, who four years ago were uncertain of the politics of immigration, now think it is a clear winner for them, and they are eager to force a debate.
Mr. Obama, who issued a directive this year halting deportations of students brought illegally to the country as children, won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote on Nov. 6.
Senate Republicans have introduced their own version of the Dream Act to grant young illegal immigrants legal rights—though it wouldn’t give them a special path to citizenship.
Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain of Arizona and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas introduced a Republican version this month as a way to restart the immigration debate and to carve out a middle ground between sending illegal immigrants home or granting them green cards, which is the intermediate step to citizenship.