Obama Campaigns for Immigration Reform . . . in Mexico

Photo Credit: APPresident Obama will ramp up his calls for comprehensive immigration reform during a trip to Mexico and Costa Rica that comes amid growing obstacles in Washington to his preferred pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

White House officials framed immigration reform as the “backdrop” of the three-day trek that begins Thursday, an attempt by Obama to move the needle on an issue in which he’s left the bulk of negotiations to lawmakers. The president will look to build momentum for the reforms while not jeopardizing talks on Capitol Hill.

The trip takes on even greater importance considering the fragile state of negotiations. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., widely seen as the most influential conservative in the immigration debate, conceded that the current immigration bill crafted by a bipartisan group of senators would not pass the GOP-controlled House.

Obama, recently dealt a bitter defeat on gun control, is desperate to avoid another high-profile loss. Experts said the trip to Latin America is a crucial opportunity for the White House to allay fears that immigration reform would trigger a new flood of illegal immigrants into the U.S.

“Obama can present a more accurate picture of Mexico, which is extremely important in the domestic debate about immigration,” said Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg, who attended a meeting this week with Obama and Vice President Biden previewing the presidential trip. “There’s a real concern about recreating the flow of [undocumented immigrants] from Mexico. Mexico has changed, and it’s not something a lot of people in Washington know about.”

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