President Barack Obama spoke with several key Republican Senators on Tuesday regarding the need to pass commonsense immigration reform.
The White House said Obama placed calls to Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John McCain, R-Ariz., and Marco Rubio, R-Fla., three of the four GOP Senators that teamed up with four Democratic Senators last month to hammer out an agreement on immigration reform.
The president did not speak with Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the fourth Republican member of the group, but the White House said Obama looks forward to discussing the issue with him in the near future.
Obama commended the lawmakers for the bipartisan progress that continues to be made on the issue and reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress.
The proposal outlined by the group of eight Senators includes providing a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the U.S. but ties the reforms to further increases in border security.
The president made clear that he believes immigration reform needs to include strengthening border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and streamlining legal immigration, the White House said.
However, Obama once again warned that that he will introduce his own immigration reform legislation if Congress fails to act on the issue.
Obama made the same warning last week when he met with the Democratic members of the group, Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and Michael Bennet, D-Col.
The phone calls to the Republican lawmakers came after last weekend's leak of a White House draft of immigration legislation that did not tie the pathway to citizenship to new border security measures.
While the White House said the leaked documents represent draft proposals and not a final bill, Rubio criticized Obama for drafting legislation without seeking input from members of Congress and said the proposal would be dead on arrival in Congress.
Following the phone call, however, Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said the Senator appreciated receiving Obama's call.
"The Senator told the President that he feels good about the ongoing negotiations in the Senate, and is hopeful the final product is something that can pass the Senate with strong bipartisan support," Conant said in a statement.
by RTT Staff Writer
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