Obama Eyes Perilous Terrain of Immigration Reform
President pushing ahead with plans to legalize millions despite economic crisis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2009 5:44 AM CDT
Bianca Rivera, a recent immigrant and student at San Jose State University, testifies during a rally to ask for immigration reform from the Obama administration, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
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(Newser) – With an economic crisis, two wars, and major battles on health care and energy looming, the Obama White House will also enter the politically treacherous terrain of immigration reform, the New York Times reports. White House officials said the president "plans to start the debate this year," aiming to create legislation making it possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the country to gain legal status while preventing future illegal immigration.

Opponents have vowed to fight hard against any effort to give illegal immigrants legal status when millions of American citizens are out of work. The president, who pledged to reform the immigration system during his campaign, acknowledges the issues is a minefield of controversy, but maintains that illegals "have to have some mechanism over time to get out of the shadows.”