This morning a group of leaders from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) met with the President and senior officials in the administration about immigration reform efforts. This meeting is similar to ones in the past to discuss how any immigration related legislation will move forward in the new congressional session. Yet this time things are a bit different with Latinos representing one in ten voters in the November 2012 election and with a majority of Americans signaling in polls that they support a plan to allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens.
Today’s meeting included Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Ruben Hinojosa (D – TX), Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (D – CA), CHC Immigration Task Force Chair Luis Gutierrez (D – IL), and Senator Bob Menendez (D – NJ).
Congressman Gutierrez said the following in a statement after the meeting, “Immigrants need action now and immigration reform cannot wait. We have a unique opportunity to finally put our government on the side of hard-working immigrants. We all need to work together — the President and Congress, Republicans and Democrats — to get something done right away.”
“The President is the quarterback and he will direct the team, call the play, and be pivotal if we succeed. I am very optimistic based on conversations with Republicans in the House and Senate that we will do more than just talk about the immigration issue this year. The President putting his full weight and attention behind getting a bill signed into law is tremendously helpful. We need the President and the American people all putting pressure on the Congress to act because nothing happens in the Capitol without people pushing from the outside.”
Gutierrez also mentioned what the immigration legislation will likely include, “We need a secure border and an electronic employment verification system that is combined with a generous and rigorous legalization program to get immigrants already living here on-the-books and in the system. We also need visas and visa reform for the people waiting decades to come here and a system for the future that people and employers will actually use and not try to go around. All of this is achievable if Republicans work with Democrats and that work has already begun.”
The White House released the following in a statement after the meeting, “The President was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship. The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay. The President made it clear he will continue to lead on this issue, and that he looks forward to working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key Members of Congress in a bipartisan process to move this debate forward at the earliest possible opportunity.”
On Tuesday, President Obama is expected to travel to Nevada to deliver an immigration speech to signal his commitment to achieving legislation on this topic.
Also of note today, The Washington Post has reported that a bipartisan working group of senators has come close to an agreement on a broad set of principles that will guide the immigration reform legislation.