Obama to link immigration reform and housing prices

Obama to link immigration reform and housing prices Washington: US President Barack Obama will laud economic benefits of immigration reform today, most notably in increasing housing prices, still recovering after the 2008 economic crisis, the White House said.

The Democratic leader is set to spend the day in Arizona, in the US southwest, for a day of housing-related activities, five years after the "subprime" mortgage crisis sparked the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Arizona, along with California and Nevada, was among the worst affected by the crash in home values -- which dropped more than 60 per cent in some places after years of boom.

While prices are back on the rise, values have yet to recover to pre-2008 highs.

The state is also on the US-Mexico border, and immigration is a hot topic there.

In a statement ahead of the trip, the White House argued that immigration reform -- championed by Obama, but stalled in Congress -- would substantially increase home values.

"Between 2000 and 2010, immigrants accounted for almost 40 percent of new home owners nationwide," the statement said, adding that eight in ten new homeowners in California were immigrants.

Obama will unveil a battery of reforms and proposals to help boost the housing sector during his Arizona visit, including aid for troubled borrowers, better access to credit, and an investment program in low-priced homes.

The president also wants the government to disengage from its role as a guarantor for home loans via semi-public groups Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, so taxpayers wouldn't be responsible for future bailouts, the White House statement said.

Some of the proposals -- framed as part of Obama's initiative to help the middle class, launched in July -- need congressional approval.

But the Republican-dominated House of Representatives is opposed to any plan that is similar to a stimulus package.

The House has also balked at approving a bipartisan Senate immigration bill that would beef up border security while providing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants.

Should the bill ever become law, it would be the most far-reaching immigration reform passed in nearly 30 years.

Supporters of the bill had hoped to rally Republicans behind it after the increasingly powerful Hispanic vote swung against them in the 2012 elections.

AFP