Obama to Discuss Immigration Reform at Cinco de Mayo Reception

Posted May 5, 2010 at 4:28pm

President Barack Obama will talk about the need for comprehensive immigration reform during Wednesday evening’s Cinco de Mayo reception in the Rose Garden, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters.

“I think he will discuss the need to continue to make progress on that even in … a very busy legislative time,” Gibbs said at his press briefing.

Obama, who is scheduled to give his remarks at 6 p.m., last week told reporters aboard Air Force One that there “may not be an appetite” in Congress to take on immigration reform this year given that is has been a tough legislative year. The climate is further complicated by a lack of GOP support in the Senate and midterm elections just around the corner.

But the issue continues to get attention in the wake of a new Arizona law that requires law enforcement to ask people for proof of their immigration status if the officers have “reasonable suspicion” that an individual is in the country illegally. The provision has created a firestorm among immigration reform advocates — and has drawn public criticism from the president.

Gibbs hinted that Obama may comment on the fact that players on the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona basketball team in the NBA playoffs, plan to wear jerseys Wednesday night that read “Los Suns” in a show of their support for Hispanics in their state.

Asked whether he expects more expressions of protest in response to the Arizona immigration law, Gibbs said, “I think somebody at a higher pay level will probably talk about that a little later on today.”

The White House spokesman also sought to downplay Obama’s suggestion that the issue may be dead this year. “I think the president said that immigration is a very hard issue that Congress might not finish this year. … I don’t think there’s anybody that would disagree with that,” he said.

Some immigration reform advocates have floated the idea of the White House hosting a bipartisan immigration summit similar to the health care summit that Obama organized in March before health care became law. Gibbs said he hadn’t heard anything directly about the prospects of a summit, but one White House aide signaled it may be a possibility.

“The president has made it clear that his administration will play an active role in engaging partners on both sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution to fix our broken immigration system. We are continuing to examine all of the options for moving forward with a bipartisan conversation,” the aide said.