Bloomberg News

Senate Democrats to Brief Obama on U.S. Immigration Talks

February 12, 2013

The four Democratic members of a bipartisan Senate group crafting a rewrite of U.S. immigration law will brief President Barack Obama on the status of their efforts, a Senate Democratic aide said.

Senators Richard Durbin of Illinois, Charles Schumer of New York, Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado will update Obama at a White House meeting scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, said the aide, who asked for anonymity because the gathering has yet to be announced.

Obama, who won the support of 71 percent of Hispanics who voted in November, has said a rewrite of immigration laws is a second-term priority. The bipartisan Senate group last month released a plan to allow a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. only after measurable increases in border security are achieved.

The White House meeting will follow a Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow on immigration policy, at which Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will testify.

Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, plans to say at the hearing that a proposal “must include a fair and straightforward path to citizenship.”

‘False Promises’

“I am troubled by any proposal that contains false promises in which citizenship is always over the next mountain,” Leahy will say, according to prepared remarks. “I want the pathway to be clear and the goal of citizenship attainable.”

Schumer has said the bipartisan group is seeking to unveil its proposal in March with Judiciary Committee action to follow. Schumer said he wants to see Senate floor action before Congress’s August recess.

In his State of the Union address tonight, Obama called on Congress to pass a new immigration law that increases border security and creates a path to citizenship.

“We know what needs to be done,” Obama said. “As we speak, bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. Now let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away.”

Republicans have put a higher priority on securing the borders from illegal migrants and providing visas for high- technology immigrants.

‘Best and Brightest’

“We can also help grow our economy if we have a legal immigration system that allows us to attract and assimilate the world’s best and brightest,” Senator Marco Rubio, of Florida, said in his party’s response to Obama’s address.

“We need a responsible, permanent solution to the problem of those who are here illegally,” Rubio, one of four Republicans in the bipartisan group, said. “But first, we must follow through on the broken promises of the past to secure our borders and enforce our laws.”

A Washington Post poll conducted Jan. 31-Feb. 10 showed support for a path to citizenship declines when Obama is associated with the effort.

Seven in 10 people polled said they would support a path to citizenship, including 60 percent of Republicans. Support dropped to 59 percent overall, and 39 percent among Republicans, when the same question was asked of a separate sample of respondents with Obama’s name attached to it.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kathleen Hunter in Washington at khunter9@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jodi Schneider at jschneider50@bloomberg.net


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