After an immigration reform draft was leaked last week, the president reiterated his commitment to getting immigration reform passed in Congress by quelling concerns among Senate Republicans involved in the discussions.
The White House released a statement yesterday evening clarifying that president Obama placed calls to Senate Republicans, who form part of the “Gang of Eight,” which includes Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Lyndsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
The president did not speak to Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) because he was traveling.
President Obama reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress
“During the calls, which build on conversations that have taken place at the staff level, the President reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress, and that he hopes that they can produce a bill as soon as possible that reflects shared core principles on reform,” according to the White House statement.
This comes days after news surfaced on the president’s leaked draft proposal. Senior administration officials were quick to mitigate concerns indicating it was a “back-up” plan. The draft unveiled by USA Today last Saturday includes an eight-year wait before someone is able to apply for permanent residency.
Persons who are undocumented would also be able to apply for a newly created “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa, according to the draft bill.
Tensions escalated on whether this would dismantle the negotiations among both Republicans and Senators and if it institutionally places time pressure on the group of Senators to carry out a legislative draft.
Rubio was the first to respond indicating that it would be “dead on arrival.”
“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.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that they have been in contact with everyone involved on Capitol Hill to discuss immigration reform and that the leaked draft was not intentional and there was no set timeline. Carney’s statement also raised concerns with Rubio’s office, who told reporters that the president did not contact Rubio to discuss ongoing efforts on immigration reform.
Rubio’s office told VOXXI that the president had not reached out to the Floridian Senator to discuss immigration prior to yesterday’s phone conversation. Despite the scrutiny, Rubio’s communications director Alex Burgos noted a positive tone after the phone conversation.
Marco Rubio feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate
“Senator Rubio appreciated receiving President Obama’s phone call to discuss immigration reform late last night in Jerusalem. The senator told the president that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support,” Burgos said in a statement.
The White House readout indicates that the president discussed such principles including “strengthening border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable and streamlining legal immigration.” During the phone conversation, the president was also referenced as clarifying that he would still move forward on immigration legislation if Congress fails to act.
“As the President made clear when he met with Democratic Senators involved in the process last week, that while he is pleased with the progress and supportive effort to date, he is prepared to submit his own legislation if Congress fails to act,” according to the White House statement. “He thanked the Senators for their leadership, and made clear that he and his staff look forward to continuing to work together with their teams to achieve needed reform.”