By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons
1:08 PM EDT, May 3, 2013
MEXICO CITY -- President Obama said Friday that he is “absolutely convinced” Congress will pass new immigration laws this year, projecting more confidence in his ability to work with Republicans from the Mexican capital than he has shown lately at home.
In a speech to Mexican students, Obama said he has tried to “lift the shadow of deportation” from young people brought to the United States as children and said he wants to do more thorough comprehensive changes to U.S. immigration policy.
“I am optimistic that, after years of trying, we are going to get it done this year,” Obama said. “I’m absolutely convinced of it.”
The upbeat assessment came several days after Obama openly acknowledged the roadblocks he faces on Capitol Hill. When a reporter asked at a White House press conference Tuesday if he still had “the juice” to get his agenda passed, Obama joked that maybe he should “just pack up and go home.”
But on a two-day trip to Mexico visiting President Enrique Peña Nieto, Obama has projected optimism about his chances of passing a new immigration law that will offer a pathway to citizenship for millions of people now living in the U.S. illegally.
Obama told Peña Nieto on Thursday that economic progress and the growth of job opportunities in Mexico would positively inform the immigration debate in the U.S., according to a U.S. account of the meeting. Mexican officials want to see American policy streamlined in part to help ease cross-border trade.
The current immigration system in the U.S. doesn’t reflect American values, Obama said Friday, because it separates families who should be reunited and leaves millions of people living “in the shadows.”
“That's why I'm working with our Congress to pass common-sense immigration reform this year,” Obama said to raucous cheers and applause. “I'm convinced we can get it done.”
Hennessey reported from Mexico city and Parsons reported from Washington.
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