Now, though, Obama is signaling a willingness to put immigration front and center, perhaps in an effort to court crucial Latino votes. Tuesday's speech comes after weeks of meetings on immigration with leaders in the business, faith, law enforcement, and Hispanic communities.
The president's push on immigration started shortly after he announced his reelection campaign, at a time when many states are taking their own action on immigration – often in direct opposition to the federal government.
Georgia’s state legislature recently passed a law similar to Arizona’s controversial SB 1070, which gives police authority to check the immigration status of people they detain. Other states are considering similar laws.
At the same time, a number of blue states are pushing back at the administration’s “Secure Communities” initiative. The program seeks to apprehend and deport illegal immigrants guilty of serious crimes by sharing the fingerprints of anyone booked into a local or county jail with the Department of Homeland Security. Critics say that the vast majority of those deported under Secure Communities are guilty of only minor offenses or no crime at all.