President Obama is reviving the issue of immigration reform in the face of mounting political pressure as he readies his bid for reelection.
Obama is holding a meeting at the White House on Tuesday with current and former elected officials along with business and faith groups to discuss the "importance of fixing our nation's broken immigration system for our 21st-century economic and national security needs," according to his schedule.
"The question is going to be, are we going to be able to find some Republicans who can partner with me and others to get this done once and for all, instead of using it as a political football?" he told Dallas-based WFAA-TV during one of four local television interviews on Monday.
The president's renewed focus on immigration reform comes as Latino advocates are demanding that he do more to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, a goal he touted during his 2008 presidential campaign.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's immigration task force, is on a countrywide tour promoting the issue. He has repeatedly said he could refrain from supporting Obama next year if he does not seriously take on immigration reform.
Immigration reform has largely sat on the shelf ever since Republicans took control of the House and made significant gains in the Senate. The House last year passed the DREAM Act, which would establish a pathway to legal residency for some children of illegal immigrants, but it failed to advance past the Senate and its future prospects appear bleak in the current Congress. Some sort of compromise measure would likely be the only piece of legislation that could pass through the GOP House and the Democratic Senate.
In addition, the still-fragile economic recovery and the pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East this year have drawn attention away from the issue. A Gallup poll released last week showed immigration at the bottom of a list of issues the public feels are most important. Only 4 percent ranked it as the top issue, compared to 45 percent who named either the economy in general or unemployment.
But at the same time, Obama needs to mobilize Latino groups and liberals, who favor comprehensive reform, to win reelection in 2012. Latino voters helped Obama win in a handful of key swing states three years ago, including Florida, New Mexico, Colorado and Nevada.
Obama and the Democrats are looking to put other states with large minority populations into play in 2012, like Arizona and Texas, both typically GOP strongholds.
"I never write off any states," he told WFAA. "I love Texas."