Obama backs bipartisan immigration reform compromise
WASHINGTON – President Obama said Tuesday that the immigration legislation drafted by a bipartisan group of senators is “largely consistent” with the principles he has laid out, and he pledged his support to help pass comprehensive reform.
After a White House meeting with Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), Obama issued a statement suggesting the measure is a bipartisan deal he can get behind.
“This bill is clearly a compromise,” Obama said in the statement, “and no one will get everything they wanted, including me.”
The proposal “is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform,” the president said.
The measure would chart a 13-year path to citizenship for most of the 11 million people in the country illegally, while devoting billions of additional dollars to border security.
It would transform the agricultural workforce through a new guest worker program designed to bring more than 300,000 immigrant farmworkers to the country over the next decade and offer them an expedited route to citizenship.
Schumer said he plans to begin hearings next week and hopes it could get to the floor in late May or early June.
Speaking to reporters after the afternoon meeting, Schumer described Obama as “enthusiastic” about the measure while acknowledging that he doesn’t support every provision.
McCain, who joined him, said he thinks supporters can convince the American people the legislation is good for the economy. He said he believes many conservative opinion leaders will get behind the proposal too.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has been effective in reaching out to conservative radio hosts and pitching the merits of immigration reform, McCain said.
Schumer and McCain spoke with reporters outside the ceremonial entrance to the West Wing but left quickly en route to the Hill.
He hopes to file the bill late Tuesday night, Schumer said as he left.
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