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A Galway man is introducing Barack Obama in Chicago tonight

Obama is being introduced at a rally in Chicago by Galway man and restaurateur Billy Lawless.

President Barack Obama
President Barack Obama
Image: AP/Press Association Images

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA is returning to his hometown, Chicago, where he hopes to pitch his new executive actions on immigration.

Obama is trying to seize the advantage in the heated dispute over the contentious immigration issue while Congress is on a Thanksgiving recess and Republicans scramble to coalesce behind a unified opposition strategy.

The president is scheduled to speak to Chicago community leaders, part of an ongoing effort to defend and promote his decision to bypass Congress and direct sweeping executive actions that could spare millions of immigrants illegally in the United States from being deported.

Obama will speak at a centre in the city’s predominantly Polish-American far northwest side, underscoring how his immigration measures would affect more than Latino immigrants.

Galway man 

Obama is being introduced in Chicago by Galway man and restaurateur Billy Lawless, who emigrated from Ireland in 1998 and employs more than 250 people at three city restaurants.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Lawless, who has been a long-time campaigner for immigration rights for the Irish in the US, said it is a great honour.

However, he said that the new reforms are “a cup half filled” although they do leave the door open for further changes, he said.

Over 1,000 people are expected to attend the rally where President Obama is speaking.

Immigration 

Under a series of measures Obama announced last week, nearly 5 million immigrants will be eligible to avoid deportation and sign up for work permits. The number who could benefit represents about 45% of the total number of immigrants who either entered the country illegally or have overstayed their visas.

Republicans have vowed to rein Obama in, but have not fallen behind any specific plan.

Obama has called on Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul that he has said would render his executive actions moot.

The White House says Obama will draw attention to the contributions of immigrants and their role in creating businesses and jobs and will cite economic estimates from the White House that the executive actions would boost the economy and expand the tax base.

Additional reporting Christina Finn 

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