White House says its immigration plan is a sidebar to congressional action
February 16th, 2013
09:56 PM ET
1 year ago

White House says its immigration plan is a sidebar to congressional action

(CNN) – Word that the Obama administration has circulated to federal agencies drafts of an immigration plan led the White House on Saturday to reaffirm its commitment to successful bipartisan negotiations to reach a plan on Capitol Hill.

"The president has made clear the principles upon which he believes any common-sense immigration reform effort should be based," White House spokesman Clark Stevens told CNN. "We continue to work in support of a bipartisan effort, and while the president has made clear he will move forward if Congress fails to act, progress continues to be made and the administration has not prepared a final bill to submit."

CNN has reported that the White House was drafting an immigration bill in case an effort among a group of senators - the Gang of Eight - does not produce legislation in the near future. A similar effort is under way in the House.

USA Today obtained a draft proposal which an administration official told the newspaper was being sent to various federal agencies. An administration official told CNN the specifics of the plan are accurate as of the last draft this official saw.

The draft included an eight-year path to permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, for illegal immigrants. A second administration official noted to CNN that the various drafts contain different proposals, but USA Today reported this particular draft included a criminal background check, back taxes, English and U.S. history requirement and a proposed new "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa. The draft also included increases to the border security and legal process and expansion of the E-Verify system to check employability of potential hires.

Obama met with the four Democrats involved in the Gang of Eight talks on Wednesday - the day after his State of the Union address - and the White House said Obama "reiterated the key principles he believes must be a part of any bipartisan, commonsense effort, including continuing to strengthen border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable and streamlining legal immigration."

"The president thanked the senators for their work to date and told them that while he was pleased with the progress, he expects the process to continue to move forward and stands ready to introduce his own legislation if Congress fails to act," that statement continued.

In his remarks the night before, Obama noted that "bipartisan groups in both chambers are working diligently to draft a bill, and I applaud their efforts. So let’s get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away and America will be better for it."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican member of the Gang of Eight who has been critical of Obama’s remarks, denounced the White House document in a late Saturday statement.

“It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress,” Rubio said in a statement. “President Obama’s leaked immigration proposal is disappointing to those of us working on a serious solution.”

After Obama’s major address on immigration in Las Vegas last month, Rubio knocked Obama’s remarks as “hurting this effort” on Capitol Hill.

– CNN Senior Producer Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.


Filed under: Immigration • Marco Rubio • Obama administration
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. wigglwagon

    The penalty for employers of illegal aliens should be mandatory sentences of $15,000 fines per illegal worker and 2 years in jail without parole per illegal worker. That and deportation of the illegal workers would put an immediate end to the problem.

    That is all the reform we need.

    February 16, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  2. Name steve

    Stop calling them illegal immigrants.

    February 16, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  3. n369rm

    If Obama REALLY wanted this legislation to PASS he would STAY OUT and let CONGRESS pass something.

    The man has NO negotiation skills and everything he tries to do with a mixed Congress turns to an all out war and crap.

    Worst thing that could have happened is Obama now trying to but into this.

    February 17, 2013 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
  4. @RI_Roger

    Another example of leading from behind. If they have legislation drafted, why aren't they sharing the details with the American people? Are they affraid they would offend the legal immigrant population and loose some of their base? will it put some (D) Senators in a position to vote along partisan lines opposed to what is right for America? Mr. President and West Wing, quit campaigning and show us your hand.

    February 17, 2013 06:33 am at 6:33 am |
  5. Rick McDaniel

    Obama would simply give them citizenship with no strings attached, today, if he could, without Congress.

    He has made himself into as much of a dictator as he can, right to the brink of illegality........no wait, he has already crossed that line also, and had the courts set it aside.

    He has been the worst President in America, since Lincoln caused the deaths of 640000 Americans.........because Lincoln wouldn't negotiate, EITHER!

    February 17, 2013 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  6. Ray E. (Georgia)

    About the only people that are yelling for immigration reform are the illegal's themselves. So, I suggest a Registration Form, about as detailed as say Obama Care where all illegals can Register. After 12 monts registrations are closed. Then the illegals can stay right where they are and work without fear. They will pay taxes, etc. as any other citizen except Social Security since they are not a citizen. When they reach 65 they will have to deport. However in the interim they can go thru the process now in place if they want to obtain citizenship. After the 12 month registration period anyone caught without being registered will be deported unceremonisally of jailed if they refuse to deport. Any fines and penelitys the government decrees will be manditory. Any Employers identified with unregistered employees after the 12 month deadline will be fined at least $100,000.00 for each offense.

    February 17, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  7. Steve

    Rick McDaniel: still bitter over that civil war, eh, champ? That's ok – I'm sure you and the other ol' boys at the Klavern will get it out of your system over a few beers.

    The reality is that any serious politician who looks at the issue seriously comes to the same conclusions (and this includes GWB whose immigration plan was very very sensible, but shot down by the republican controlled congress). In short, the plan that is actually workable and does not include crazy people absolutes includes:

    1. limited amnesty for those who are here a long time and are willing to enter into agreements to pay back taxes and perhaps fines (spread over a few years)
    2. strict border controls along the southern border consisting of hard fences (not expensive/ineffective drones, etc) with humanitarian water piped in for those who make it to the fence but have to turn back.
    3. implementation of a guest worker program to allow american companies and individuals to take advantage of high quality low cost labor on tasks that amerrcans are unwilling or unable to do.
    4. strong penalties for overstaying the guest worker program or KNOWINGLY hiring ineligible workers.

    you need all 4 points. without all 4, any plan will not work.

    February 17, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  8. RINO Bill

    Obama should know that the term "congressional action" is an oxymoron under the current Republican House leadership.

    February 17, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  9. Mike Bushman

    Is this a sidebar, or a veiled attempt to derail the bipartisan compromise as it gains momentum. One of the key principles of the compromise is that breaking the law should not give someone an advantage over following it. Illegal immigrants need to wait in line behind everyone trying to come here legally for citizenship, as it should be. Can you imagine the outrage if we excused business leaders, politicians, athletes or others for cheating, even if to make life better for their families? It appears that the President's plan does not follow this basic principle of national longevity and prosperity.

    February 17, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Ed

    If that passes I will become an illegal immigrant. I have been waiting over 10 years for my greencard and have at least 12 more to go according to the USCIS priority dates. I am an aerospace engineer and will happily walk across the desert or swim the rio grande to jump the line.

    February 17, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  11. Evergreen

    During his last term the GOP complained that the President should take lead on immigration. Now they are complaining that he has taken the lead. The GOP had no interest in immigration reform until this last election.

    February 17, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  12. vic , nashville ,tn

    Don’t expect any thing from this hopeless congress

    February 17, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    The number of angry anti-immigration reform comments shows the difficulty in passing any bi-partisan legislation,especially in the House of Representatives. The push back by Tea Party and anti-immigration reform House Republicans will requre Speaker Boehner to depend on Minority Leader Pelosi and Democrats for the necessary votes. Republicans can only hope to sweep this issue under the rug to minimize political damage. Democrats will benefit the most for generations to come as grateful immigrants become citizens/voters.

    February 17, 2013 10:29 am at 10:29 am |