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Obama holds immigration reform meeting in Washington

President Obama held an immigration reform meeting Tuesday with a number of immigration stakeholders. The President says that immigration reform is an issue that he continues to pursue during his presidency, but says in a statement issued this week by the White House he "cannot be successful if he is leading the debate alone."

President Obama continues to voice his disappointment that the DREAM Act failed in the Senate last year. The DREAM Act would have created a pathway to permanent residency and U.S. citizenship for young people who entered the United States before age 16, had a high school degree or the equivalent, had no serious criminal record, and met other criteria, including agreeing to complete two years of college or military service.

The discussions in the State Dining Room Tuesday focused on ideas and suggestions for reforming the "broken immigration" system in America, according to a White House statement. A number of problems that the broken system has produced including: how to retain well educated immigrants after they have received a degree on a student visa; and how to allow for businesses to more reliably hire immigrants through employment visa programs.

Local law enforcement officers invited to the meeting reportedly expressed concern that without reform, local agencies are more likely to become involved under state laws to enforce federal immigration law. That distracts from the local agencies' duty to protect local communities, according to the statement. The White House says faith leaders who were invited raised their concerns over the damage deportation causes to families and communities when families are separated after removal proceedings.

Source: USA Today, "Obama plans to 'intensify' immigration debate," David Jackson 20 Apr 2011

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