President Obama gave his blessing to the Senate’s Gang of Eight proposal on immigration reform, but his backing was anything but a ringing endorsement.
“This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me,” Obama said in a statement after the meeting with New York Sen. Chuck Schumer and Arizona Sen. John McCain who briefed him on the plan Tuesday.
The bipartisan agreement was initially scheduled for special roll out treatment that same day, but was instead released with little fanfare in light of the Boston Marathon bombings Monday.
The four Democrats and four Republicans of the Gang of Eight formally filed the full legislation Wednesday. In a joint statement, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., along with Schumer and McCain, said the bill was just a “starting point” effort.
“Our bipartisan proposal is a starting point and will be strengthened by good-faith input and ideas from across the ideological spectrum,” the statement read.
For weeks, the senators have been nailing down details on a plan that significantly bolsters the border while providing a clear path to citizenship. However, the road to citizenship, which carves out a path for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in America, hinges on a set of security “triggers” of requirements on border surveillance, apprehension rates, and E-Verify worker systems. Immigrants who arrived in the country illegally but who have been here since Dec. 31, 2011, will only be eligible to apply for green cards once those “triggers” are met—a sticking point for the White House.
“The president’s support of our proposal, even though he wouldn’t fully agree with it, is just the right place to be,” Schumer told reporters after the briefing.
The unveiling comes after Rubio made a late aggressive push for the reform by hitting a seven Sunday show sweep this past weekend. Rubio adamantly maintained that the plan did not provide amnesty to undocumented immigrants, and provided “no special path” to citizenship.
More than 64% of Americans support a path to citizenship for those who arrived in the United States illegally, according to a new poll released by NBC News/The Wall Street Journal. The poll is a significant shift from a similar survey from 2010 in which fewer than half of Americans said they believe immigration adds to and strengthens the nation.
McCain said he was “confident” the immigration reform will land on Obama’s desk this year, because of changing attitudes among the public and lawmakers.
“The attitude of the American people has changed since 2007,” McCain said. “And frankly, elections have had an impact as well.”