You could call it President Barack Obama's New Year's resolution as he promises to push for comprehensive immigration reform.
"I do think that there should be a pathway for legal status," the President said in his first press conference Wednesday since his re-election.
The state of Arizona has a big stake in the debate which could heat up as early as January when President Obama expects to see a comprehensive immigration reform bill introduced in congress.
Just over a week since his re-election, President Obama is wasting no time in pushing for comprehensive immigration reform; new laws that would eventually give U.S. citizenship to illegal immigrants, "it's important for them to pay back taxes," Obama said, "it's important for them to learn English. It's important for them to potentially pay a fine, but to give them the avenue whereby they can resolve their legal status here in this country I think is very important."
The president says his plans do not mean an open border policy, "I think it should include a continuation of the strong border security measures that we've taken because we have to secure our borders. I think it should contain serious penalties for companies that are purposely hiring undocumented workers and taking advantage of them."
It appears there's growing bi-partisanship, with more Republicans saying a comprehensive approach is long overdue, "65% of the people in the exit poll of this election supported a pathway to citizenship," South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham told Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation, "here's what I think we should do with the 12 million (illegal immigrants in the U.S.), fix it in a way that we don't have a third wave of illegal immigration 20 years now. That's what Americans want. They want more legal immigration and they want to fix illegal immigration once and for all."
On Tuesday, a Tucson man became the "face" of the immigration debate on the U.S. Senate floor as Illinois Senator Dick Durbin told the story of Carlos Martinez, "at Cholla High school in Tucson, Arizona, Carlos graduated 9th in his class," Durbin said as stood next to a blown up picture of Martinez.
Martinez is also a graduate of the University of Arizona with several degrees including a masters in computer engineering. Martinez was brought the U.S. illegally by his parents when he was just nine years old.
Despite his science and engineering degrees, along with graduate honors, Durbin explained how Martinez was not able to find work after college, "as America learns more about the "dreamers in our midst," like Carlos Martinez, who are ready to contribute their talent to our country, support will build for passing the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform."
In September, Martinez became one of the first to receive deferred deportation status which allows him to stay in the United States legally for the next two years.
But not everyone is in favor of that. Arizona Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order preventing deferred action recipients, like Carlos Martinez, from obtaining driver's licenses or any other "public benefits."
Copyright 2012 Tucson News Now. All Rights Reserved.