Both Sides of Immigration Debate Search for Hints on Obama's Position

President Obama doesn't plan to begin pushing his agenda on immigration until May, but many are looking for clues about his intentions in what he's already said.

Immigrants' supporters can point to Obama arguing for a mechanism to give longtime residents a way "to get out of the shadows."

Anti-immigration groups can point to Obama stating that they depress wages because "they're often pitted against American workers and can't join a union."

Obama has not listed immigration reform among the ambitious programs he is pushing this year but has said he still supports "comprehensive immigration reform."

Perhaps most telling for those searching for hints on how Obama will approach this issue was the first immigration raid under his administration, which took place in Bellingham, Wash., in late February.

Nearly 30 illegal immigrants were arrested. But then they were allowed to stay and work so they could present evidence against the employers, who seem to be the administration's chief target.

"In my view, we have to do workplace enforcement," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "It needs to be focused on employers who intentionally and knowingly exploit the illegal labor market."

Children of illegal immigrants who are born in America automatically become U.S. citizens. And a top Democrat sharply criticizes the idea of arresting their parents.

"We must stop the raids," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said. "They're un-American. Just the idea of the stories we've heard of people kicking in the doors in the middle of the night and deporting fathers, separating them from their children. It's un-American."

As a candidate, Obama evoked a similar image.

"A nursing mother is torn away from her baby by an immigration raid -- that is a problem that all of us, black, white and brown, must solve as one nation," he said.

But a new Pew Hispanic Center study says there are now 4 million children of illegal workers who are U.S. citizens. Critics scoff at the notion that if families can't be separated, their parents can't be sent home. Their solution: send the whole family back.

"The kids need to be with their parents. Everybody goes home," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "Nobody's getting separated."

Critics note that Obama also talks about letting illegal workers stay but not without punishment.

"It's not going to be some instant amnesty," Obama has said. "What's going to happen is you are going to pay a significant fine. You are going to learn English."

Critics say it may not be "instant amnesty" but the bottom line is the same.

"The age of aggressive interior enforcement under this administration is apparently over," Stein said.