Obama warns Democrats he has immigration bill ready if Congress doesn’t act
February 13th, 2013
08:30 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama warns Democrats he has immigration bill ready if Congress doesn’t act

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama told a group of Senate Democrats Wednesday that Congress must move forward with comprehensive immigration reform, or else he will propose his own legislation on the hot-button topic.

Obama met with Sens. Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez and Michael Bennet, the four Democrats in the bipartisan group of eight senators who introduced a framework for immigration reform last month. A bipartisan group of House members is also working in secret to craft immigration reform measures.

In a description of Wednesday’s meeting, 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.”

Those measures are included in the bipartisan framework that was unveiled last month, though that proposal (which has yet to be drafted into formal legislation) would require bolstering border security as a prerequisite to a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the United States.

The White House has argued that the U.S. border is currently the most secure it’s ever been. Obama made the case Wednesday in his meeting with the lawmakers that “continuing to strengthen our borders and creating a path to earned citizenship that ensures everyone plays by the same set of rules are shared goals and should not be seen as mutually exclusive.”

And the president warned that he “stands ready to introduce his own legislation if Congress fails to act” on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.

In January - at the same time the bipartisan group of senators was outlining its immigration framework - Democratic sources told CNN that the White House had been advising senators and advocates that they were writing their own immigration bill in formal legislative language. The White House rarely writes its own legislation.

By presenting his own legislation, Obama could avoid GOP criticism that he’s disconnected from the process. Even if Obama’s bill failed to win congressional approval, the president would still be able to point to his legislation as evidence of engagement.

Democrats urged the president not to release his own bill in January, fearing such a move would stymie the delicate negotiations taking place among lawmakers in both parties. In terms of substance, sources familiar with both proposals said the border security trigger included in the bipartisan Senate framework was not a part of the president’s plan.

On Wednesday, an aide to one of the Democratic senators said the lawmakers told the president “they remain confident that a bipartisan bill could be agreed to in the coming weeks.”

“The Senators said the bipartisan negotiations were progressing well and that both sides were making progress and working together in good faith,” the aide said.

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama called on Congress to send him a comprehensive immigration reform package, saying both sides agree on what measures need to be included to make the system work better.

“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.”

CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Filed under: Immigration
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Karen

    A child rapist illegal alien is running free. He worked in the senate office, and they put off his deportation for political cover. Now, they have decided to let him stay in our country. If they don't deport child rapists, then they will never enforce the border.

    February 13, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  2. John Smith

    One way to enhance U.S. border security is to reduce the opportunity for illegals to get a job. To do this, we need a National I.D. card. The card would not replace Social Security numbers (SSN). SSN's would remain confidential whereas the National I.D. would be a public record and both would be required for employment.

    Federal highway funds could be used to encourage states to add their driver license details to a space specifically reserved on the National ID card for license information. Thus state enforcement officials would be alerted if a person doesn't have any obvious evidence for authorized U.S. residency.

    Additionally, like the war on drugs, where it's far more cost effective to go after the drug kingpins instead of the many drug users, it would be far easier for Immigration officials to go after the illegal-jobs kingpins than to go after the many illegal workers.

    For those illegal immigrants who come clean, they could be issued a "conditional" National I.D. card, authorizing them for employment, provided they come clean and confirm their means of livelihood and employer (for tax reasons) and apply for citizenship. Their place in line for citizenship would be determined based on the evidence they present showing how long they've been in the U.S.

    For those brought to the U.S. by illegal immigrant parents, or born in the U.S., they would similarly be issued a "conditional" National I.D. provide they apply for citizenship and take a place in line based on the evidence they present showing their means of livelihood and how long they've been in the U.S.

    Also, a "guest worker" National I.D. could be issued to those who qualify for whatever migratory worker program the U.S. government wishes to implement. If these guest workers were to ever apply for citizenship, their place in line would be based on their work history in the U.S.

    Lastly, the Cold War is history, immigrants from Cuba should not be allowed to jump to the front of the line.

    February 13, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  3. Colby

    this is twisting the truth. President Obama said if congress didn't act he would with executive orders, which in my opinion by far the worst mistake he made Tuesday night.

    February 13, 2013 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  4. cbr

    These four Senators and their four colleagues need to bring an immigration bill to the floor. We can not longer pass the buck. Senators and Representatives need to be courageous and start moving ahead. We cannot afford even two more years of a do-nothing Congress. The American people deserve better.

    February 13, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  5. manuel medina

    republicans marco rubeo represents florida as an American citizen. i just want to let the nation know we all are immigrants in one way we all have roots and values but we all can enjoy this nation in the best interest of the people to move forward working together. thank you

    February 13, 2013 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  6. Ancient Texan

    The li'l dictator is about to make another royal decree. The separation of powers means nothing to this egomanic, he was re-elected and that means he can run the whole show anyway he desires. Folks we have a problem and it's going to be a terrible, miserable long four years.

    February 13, 2013 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  7. Jake

    Hurry up Obama, gotta get those illegal aliens citizenship before the 2014 so the Dems can retake the House.

    February 13, 2013 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  8. 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 13, 2013 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  9. Ed1

    Our dictator at work always threats when he doesn't get his way.

    February 13, 2013 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  10. jack878

    Great, he has time to allow for making needey people citizens since all needey people vote for democrates, but seems he has no time to work on deficit reduction. Ignoring the deficit and making illegals legal will both help destroy our country.

    February 13, 2013 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  11. Randy, San Francisco

    President Obama may have to propose an immigration bill since Speaker Boehner can't control the unruly Tea Party members in his caucus. Speaker Boehner may have to depend on Minority Leader Pelosi and the Democrats to help pass any compromise bill from the US Senate. It is a sad commentary on Speaker Boehner's failed leadership.

    February 13, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  12. Name lynn

    Thatts obama you are the president, an you helping immigration an the poor an middle class people.

    February 13, 2013 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  13. Screwed Again

    They will diddle and fiddle and nothing will come of their bi-partisan efforts.

    February 14, 2013 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  14. Julius cheboriot

    I like oboma bills simply he is a focaspresiden of the america and word i look foward at here at africa presidens and middle east to follow the way oboma advocate his people and world especialy as kenya peace is best everyone in the universe thank you

    February 14, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  15. sifto

    I have a terrible feeling Obama is trying his best to sabotage this bill because the republicans have worked so hard on it....he needs to stay out of it....

    February 14, 2013 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  16. Name lynn

    thats why obama is the president, an what hes says go when its come to immigrations. Leave the people alone, obama is a good person, an immigrations stays.

    February 14, 2013 06:17 am at 6:17 am |
  17. Marie MD

    Go for it Mr President. i don't know about all the Democrats but we all know that the rethugs are just trying to buy votes pretending they NOW care about the people they have been trying to put down and in jail and racial profiling for years!
    We are not stupid!!! Where were they since 2008?

    February 14, 2013 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
  18. Jerry

    Threats, threats, and more threats...... Why does this Bully-in-Chief have to ALWAYS make it: "It's my way or the highway?!"

    Someone needs to tell HIM to shove it and remind HIM that the elections are over and that unless HE decides to REALLY declare HIMSELF King of América, there will always be opposition to HIS idiotic spending policies.

    Democrats just don't have the "bolas" and WILL NEVER take that task on; so, it's up to the Republicans.

    Stay tuned...

    February 14, 2013 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  19. Gurgyl

    Please do not make all illegals to legals then you have to release all prisoners. This nation needs very strict immigration system plus JOB-TRAINING. Hyper Unemployment now. Know this. Stop H1-B, J1visas for a while. Let Americans be job-trained first.

    February 14, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  20. Cathy

    The 'Destroyer in Chief' and his followers are at it again.

    February 14, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |