Washington – President Barack Obama plans to renew in El Paso, Texas, his plea for immigration reform, while Republicans demand greater presence of the National Guard on the southern border.
The visit to El Paso is part of the new impetus the White House is giving to comprehensive immigration reform, which faces a hostile climate in Congress.
Nonetheless, Obama has said over the past few weeks that he firmly believes in the urgent need to fix the "broken" immigration system in line with "our nation's 21st century economic and security needs."
Though immigration takes a back seat to the economy in the concerns of U.S. Hispanics in general, it is the single most important subject for immigrant families affected by raids and deportations.
Analysts therefore believe that Obama's visit to El Paso could generate political dividends - it will help him consolidate Latino support for his reelection in 2012, and provides an opportunity to point out that, according to his government, the U.S.-Mexico border "is safer than ever."
"It's a great chance for Obama to stress the success of border security and the importance to the U.S. economy of a steady, regulated flow of goods and persons across the border," Andrew Selee, director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute, told Efe.
"The topic is undoubtedly controversial, but that flow cannot be stopped without harming the U.S. economy, and the best option is to seek reforms that allow it to be regulated more intelligently," he said.
Meanwhile, Hispanic legislators ask for an executive decision to halt the deportation of undocumented students who would benefit from their possible legalization under the DREAM Act.
But the White House replies that Obama cannot act unilaterally, and that illegal immigration requires a bipartisan solution in Congress.
It is calculated that immigration authorities will deport 400,000 people this year, a record number to be added to similar amounts in the last two years.
Selecting El Paso for Obama's speech was not done by chance - the city is on the banks of the Rio Grande on the border with Ciudad Juarez, Mexico's murder capital.
Obama plans to emphasize the achievements of his administration in matters of border security, at a time when, according to FBI data, four of the safest large U.S. cities are located on the southern border.
El Paso, for example, had five murders in 2010, compared to the almost 3,000 in Ciudad Juarez, the main battleground in a war among Mexico's well-armed drug cartels.
All that, however, does not convince Republicans, including Arizona Sen. John McCain, who demands an even greater deployment of the National Guard.
U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the Obama administration has not yet taken a "final decision" about the deployment, and that a key point is exactly who will pay for it, as the current congressional funding for the guard's patrol operations in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas runs out this summer.