News Column

President Obama Wants Action on Immigration

March 26, 2013
President Obama campaigning in 2012. (File photo)
President Obama campaigning in 2012. (File photo)

President Obama called on Congress on Monday to get moving on an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. Obama noted that lawmakers in the Senate and House of Representatives have made some progress toward finding common ground on immigration. A bipartisan group of senators, known as the Gang of Eight, has been huddling on legislation, and a group of eight House lawmakers is working on a framework for overhauling immigration laws as well.

But Obama wants lawmakers to deliver him a bill to sign soon after they return from Easter break.

"We are making progress, but we've got to finish the job," Obama said at a naturalization ceremony at the White House in which 28 immigrants took the Oath of Allegiance and officially became U.S. citizens. "This issue is not new. Everyone knows what's broken, and everyone knows how to fix it."

Obama's goal of getting a bill done quickly might be hard to meet.

Last week, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, said he doubted the committee could complete work on a bill by the end of April. The head of the union representing more than 7,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents wrote to the Gang of Eight on Monday that ICE agents' input should be considered before completing their proposal, according to a draft of the letter obtained by USA TODAY.

Obama, who threatened in January to introduce his own plan if lawmakers didn't quickly produce a bill, repeated his stance Monday that legislation should include a plan for improving border security and a pathway for about 11 million undocumented citizens in the country to earn citizenship. The president's advocacy for a pathway to citizenship for those who are in the USA illegally doesn't sit well with some GOP lawmakers who say the president's insistence on the issues suggests he's not serious about the legislation.

President Obama greets new U.S. citizens after a naturalization ceremony for active-duty servicemembers and civilians in the East Room of the White House on Monday.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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