President Obama: Path to Citizenship "Needs to Be" in Immigration Bill

PHOTO: President Barack Obama is interviewed by WXTV Univision 41s Adriana Vargas on July 16, 2013.
Share
Copy

President Obama on Tuesday insisted he's not backing down from his top demand on immigration reform -- a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration reform faces a rough ride in the House, where GOP leaders have resisted taking up a Senate-passed bill that accomplishes Obama's goal of allowing undocumented immigrants to earn citizenship. Republicans are split over what to do with unauthorized immigrants in the U.S., but the president cautioned them against passing anything short of a path to full citizenship.

"It needs to be a part of the bill," Obama said in an interview with WXTV, Univision's New York affiliate.

Republicans have floated numerous possibilities in addressing the undocumented population, including a plan to offer them legal status, but they haven't embraced the idea of citizenship. Obama indicated that anything short of citizenship could leave millions of undocumented immigrants in a state of legal limbo.

"You don't want after having done immigration reform to still have a situation in which millions of people are threatened with deportation, millions of people are operating in the shadows, businesses are still taking advantage of undocumented workers to pay low wages that depress American wages generally," Obama added.

House Republicans are taking a slow, piece-by-piece approach to addressing immigration reform. Key members have said not to expect votes in the House before the August recess, meaning that Congress will not accomplish Obama's goal of passing a bill by summer.

But the president said he is still "cautiously optimistic" about the chances of immigration reform becoming law.

"[In Washington], things move more slowly than you like. It's always more difficult than you like," he said. "If you stay with it, eventually the right thing gets done."

House Republicans have balked on immigration in part because they believe the Senate bill in part because they don't believe it goes far enough on border security and they don't "trust" Obama to secure the border. The president pointed to the buildup of border resources under his administration, but said he's willing to go ever farther to meet Republican demands.

Obama has said before, however, that he won't support a "enforcement trigger" that would block a path to citizenship.

"We can always do more," he said in a separate interview with KMEX, Univision's Los Angeles affiliate. "I mean there's never an inclination on the part of my administration not to take very seriously the issue of border security. I think we have to do it smart."

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
 
See It, Share It
PHOTO: A visitor holds an Xbox One controller during the EGX gaming conference at Earls Court in London, Sept. 25, 2014.
Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg/Getty Images
PHOTO:
Bay Ismoyo, ChaideerMahyuddin/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: An undated booking photo shows Castor Conley.
Multnomah County Sheriffs Office
PHOTO: James Franco, left, and Seth Rogen in a scene from the The Interview.
Ed Araquel/Columbia Pictures/Sony/AP Photo
Minecraft Creator Buys Ridiculous $70 Million Mansion
MLS | Inset: Yui Mok/Press Association/AP Photo