The nation might be moving closer to some type of immigration reform, as President Obama indicated in an interview airing today that he may be open to a bill that does not include a special pathway to citizenship, if it’ll mean Republicans will finally agree to get something passed.
While that news won’t please Democrats, who have insisted any reform measure include a pathway to citizenship, clearly the president has decided that a new bill that allows undocumented immigrants to gain some legal status is better than nothing.
The news of the possible compromise comes a day after Speaker John A. Boehner and other House Republicans released a statement saying they could agree on a bill that would grant immigrants legal status, but would not include the pathway to citizenship.
In the CNN interview, the president seemed open to the Republican plan as long as such immigrants could still apply under the regular citizenship process once they were legal.
“If the speaker proposes something that says right away: Folks aren’t being deported, families aren’t being separated, we’re able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here, and then there’s a regular process of citizenship, I’m not sure how wide the divide ends up being,” Obama said. “What I’m encouraged by is the fact that Mr. Boehner and others seem to recognize our country will be stronger if we are able to resolve this issue in a way where, you know, kids, for example, who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are Americans but don’t have the right papers are not being punished.”
When he was pushed further on whether he could give up the pathway to get a bill passed, the president did not reject the idea.
“The question is, is there more that we can do in this legislation that gets both Democratic and Republican support” he said, “but solves these broader problems, including strengthening borders and making sure that we have a legal immigration system that works better than it currently does.”
“I think the principle that we don’t want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me and not just Democrats,” he said.
Obama pointed out that even under his own plan, those in the country illegally would still have to go through “a very long process of earning citizenship” by learning English, paying back taxes and going “to the back of the line.”