White House Immigration Summit’ Moved Back a Week

Posted June 12, 2009 at 2:30pm

Updated: 5 p.m.

A White House official on Friday said an immigration “summit— scheduled for Wednesday will be postponed until the following week, although officials have yet to reveal a date. This is the second time this spring the immigration meeting has been postponed.

The session, which is expected to feature Members of Congress discussing the issue with President Barack Obama, was delayed again because of scheduling conflicts, the official said.

“The meeting is being rescheduled and will be happening soon,— the official said. “A new date is being set.—

The official was not specific about what in Obama’s schedule forced the cancellation.

Obama has numerous difficult items on his agenda this year, and there has been speculation that immigration reform is one of the issues that will be dropped from the table. But one immigration reform advocacy group expressed confidence that the latest delay of the White House meeting will not derail the immigration effort.

“While we are disappointed that the meeting has been delayed, we are confident that immigration reform will move forward this fall,— said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice. “The president has promised to advance the issue many times, and we believe he is a man of his word.—

White House officials have been careful to suggest that they want progress on the issue this year without saying explicitly that a bill will be done.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent an e-mail out to members on Friday afternoon indicating that the meeting had been postponed.

“We have not received a rescheduling notice, but the goal will be to have this meeting the week of June 22nd,— the e-mail states.

CHC Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) said that she is disappointed by the delay but that it in no way lessens the importance of passing a comprehensive immigration reform package this year.

“We are confident the president will keep his word by enacting reform this year,— Velázquez said in a statement. The CHC “will continue working with our colleagues in Congress and the Administration, as well as those in the agriculture, business and immigrant rights communities, to lay the foundation for passage of an immigration reform package this year.—

Some lawmakers are already concerned that the twice-delayed meeting may be a sign of a worrisome trend.

“There is a measured tone of disappointment,— said an aide to one Democratic lawmaker in the forefront of the immigration debate. “Certainly, immigration advocates in Congress think that the White House should not put this off any longer and address reforms that are needed this year.—

Interest groups said it was a mistake to delay the meeting, but they still held out for action on the issue in the near-term.

“The president is too smart not to move on immigration reform this year,— said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.

“We don’t see this as a signal that President Obama is stepping back from reform. All the lights are green with … both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-Nev.] and Speaker Nancy Pelosi [D-Calif.] saying the debate on comprehensive immigration reform is coming soon,— Noorani said.