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Former labor secretary joins Obama’s push on immigration reform


With the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators joining forces with a new plan on comprehensive immigration reform, former Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis says President Obama will keep Congress on a tight leash to follow through on promises, a timeline of four to five months she says, before he will step in to enact his own plan.

Solis, who was the first Hispanic woman to head a Cabinet-level agency, joined Andrea Mitchell Thursday to add to the cautious optimism seen in the aftermath of statements from both the bipartisan group of senators and the president on plans for fixing America’s broken system for immigrants, but noted that “the House seems to be lagging a bit.”

“I think that there’s obviously this grand movement now and this collaboration on the bipartisan level,” Solis said. “So that helps to set the environment.”

But changing environments won’t make legislating immigration reforms any easier. “There’s still a lot of work to do. The president admits that as we get closer to a resolution or an actual law, that it’s going to be tough.” For this reason, Solis urged public engagement. As with many other Obama administration initiatives, the power of the people has not be overlooked.

The former labor secretary was fresh off of a trip accompanying Obama to Las Vegas to exercise the bully pulpit in pushing for Congress to enact immigration reform. ”I think this was a good way of telling the Latino community and all the other immigrant groups that are faced with problems in immigration, because it’s a broken system, that, hey, we’re going to get this done in a timely fashion,” Solis said of the event.

Solis assured Andrea Mitchell that comprehensive immigration reform is a top priority for the administration in its second term–and one that she feels the public supports.

“If we can bring those 12 million or 11 million out of the shadows, that is over a trillion dollars that’s going to be put into our economy over 10 years,” she said. “That’s going to help to provide for education, for Social Security, for all the things that we worry about right now.”

Former labor secretary joins Obama's push on immigration reform