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Returning from Hawaii. (Photo/WWR)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Today in the West Wing: Thursday, May 20

"The Arizona law, I think, expresses some of the frustrations that the American people have had in not fixing a broken immigration system and, frankly, the failures of the federal government to get this done. I’m sympathetic to those frustrations; I share those frustrations."

That frustration, President Obama said at yesterday’s news conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, extends to Capitol Hill, where there's not enough support for an immigration reform bill - at least the one he wants:

"Here’s the challenge that we have politically. The political challenge is, is that I have confidence that I can get the majority of Democrats, both in the House and the Senate, to support a piece of legislation of the sort that I just described. But I don’t have 60 votes in the Senate. I’ve got to have some support from Republicans."

Perhaps not in this election year, but there is widespread support in general for a bill that would overhaul what everyone agrees is a broken system now. In a bipartisan effort a few years ago, Arizona Sen. John McCain and the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy got enough Senate votes for a bill, but it fell short in the House.

Meantime, Obama made this claim:

"Illegal immigration is actually down on the borders, not up. I know that’s not the perception out there, but that’s the fact."

The White House provided no proof of this. But there is anecdotal evidence that the economic slowdown is causing some potential illegals to stay away.

As for those who are here illegally, Obama wants what he calls accountability:

"That means they need to pay a fine, they need to pay back taxes. I believe they should learn English. I believe that it is important for them to get to the back of the line and not in the front, but that we create a pathway so that they have an opportunity, if they are following the rules, following the law, to become legal residents and ultimately citizens of this country."


The Schedule


10:00AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

10:30AM THE PRESIDENT receives the Economic Daily Briefing
Oval Office
Closed Press

11:00AM THE PRESIDENT meets with senior advisors
Oval Office
Closed Press

3:00PM THE PRESIDENT and THE VICE PRESIDENT meet with Secretary of the Treasury Geithner
Oval Office
Closed Press

Briefing Schedule

1:00PM Briefing by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs

On This Day

1862: President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act, which opens government-owned land to small family farmers ("homesteaders"). The act gave "any person" who was the head of a family 160 acres to try his hand at farming for five years. The individual had to be at least 21 years old and was required to build a house on the property.

Presidential Quote

"As the term of my relief from this place (Washington, D.C.) approaches, its drudgery becomes more nauseating and intolerable. - Thomas Jefferson

The Fine Print:

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