2013 Political Update
Andy Davis
adavi481@uwsp.edu

President Barack Obama’s second term in office officially began on Sunday, Jan. 20. The inauguration ceremony kicked off Presidential Inauguration weekend.

The official swearing-in of the president by Chief Justice John G. Roberts was aired on live television, marking the first time this portion of the ceremonial event has been broadcast for viewing. After the president was sworn in, the Inaugural Luncheon—hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC)—began, the menu of which consisted of bison, lobster and apple pie. The following day was the Ceremonial Swearing-In Ceremony, which included performances by James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson and Beyoncé.

A couple days after the inauguration, Congress got right to work questioning Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton about the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi, Libya. The hearings were held on Jan. 23 before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Secretary Clinton offered no additional information about the attack on the U.S. Mission and asked, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) began the questioning at the Foreign Relations Committee by remarking that “there are many questions that are unanswered, and the answers frankly that you’ve given this morning are not satisfactory.”

On Tuesday, speaking at a Las Vegas high school with a large Hispanic population, the president expressed his support for a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. immigration laws.

“The time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform,” President Obama began. “Now’s the time.”

Three goals of the reform according to Obama are: better enforcement of existing laws; affording the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. citizenship; and reforming the legal immigration system.

“At this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon,” Obama said. “This time, action must follow. We can’t allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate.”

A day before Obama’s speech, four senators from each party proposed framework for legislation that would provide eventual citizenship for the approximate 11 million undocumented immigrants which the president viewed as a bipartisan effort to settle this issue. This plan, however, did resemble efforts to reform U.S. immigration that have failed in past years.

Mexico’s foreign ministry issued a statement Tuesday stating that it “welcomes the principles that have been set out” by Obama during his speech in Las Vegas. Mexican officials have been putting pressure on the U.S. to make changes in immigration laws and policies for years.

Although the Mexican government has not commented on specific details of President Obama’s speech, reform would be significant for the country and the estimated 6.8 million undocumented Mexican immigrants currently living in the U.S.

Legalizing undocumented immigrants is a contentious issue, and one that caused a small group of protestors to gather across the street from the Las Vegas high school to demonstrate and speak out against Obama’s comments. A full outline of the reform has yet to be released.