President Obama outlined his plan for immigration reform in a speech in Las Vegas, calling for a path to citizenship for some undocumented workers, while pushing for a crack down on businesses that hire illegal immigrants and stronger border security. Michael Scotto has the details.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The debate over immigration gained new momentum Tuesday after President Obama laid out his plan to overhaul the country's immigration laws.
“I believe we are finally at a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is finally within our grasp,” Obama said.
The President's speech came one day after a group of bipartisan senators unveiled its own proposals and a time when the immigration debate is gaining major steam among Republicans and Democrats. But aware that progress can turn into gridlock, the President is warning lawmakers that he will take matters into his own hands if they don't reach an agreement.
Obama said, “If Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send a bill based on my proposal and insist they vote on it right away.”
Much of the President's proposal is in line with the one being discussed in the Senate. But there are key differences. The President's plan would offer protections to gay and lesbian couples and provide a more direct route to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“We got to lay out a path, a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English and then going to the back of the line,” Obama said.
Republicans in Congress reacted cautiously to the President's speech, with a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner urging the President not to throw Congressional negotiations off track.
It was a sentiment shared by Florida Senator Marco Rubio, before Obama even took to the stage.
Rubio said, “If this endeavor becomes a bidding war to see who can come up with easiest, quickest way to a green card possible, this thing is not going to go well, folks.”
For now, though, there is optimism that years of failure will finally result in success.