"The president asked the group to commit to moving forward to keep the debate about this issue alive, to keep it alive in the sense that it can get before Congress, where the ultimate resolution of it will have to be obtained," said Bill Bratton, the former police chief in Los Angeles and New York City. "The idea being to go out into our various communities and to speak about the issue."
Obama promised to continue working to build a bipartisan consensus around immigration and said he'd lead a "civil debate" on the issue in the months ahead, the White House said in a statement. But he also said he won't succeed if he alone is leading the debate.
Obama has said repeatedly that he is committed to overhauling the system but also has argued that he can't make headway without Republican support. He does not have enough Democratic votes in the Senate to muscle any legislation through and Republicans now control the House.
He has called for a policy that focuses on border security, accountability for employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants and requiring illegal immigrants to acknowledge they broke the law, pay back taxes and penalties, and learn English before they can begin the process of qualifying for legal status and eventual citizenship. Republicans oppose a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants, calling such a program "amnesty."
None of this suggests that immigration reform will be happening any time soon. Greg Weeks today quotes Esther Cepeda on how the US government is now dealing with immigration:
It seems that at least for the foreseeable future Washington's message to Arizona and other states who want to take immigration matters into their own hands is: You're not allowed to deal with illegal immigration yourselves, only we can. And we will. Sometime. Maybe. Stand by.