President Barack Obama traveled to Las Vegas on Tuesday to deliver remarks expressing support for a comprehensive immigration reform proposal outlined by a bipartisan group of Senators.
The proposal outlined by the group of eight Senators on Monday 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.
Democrats Charles Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Michael Bennet of Colorado joined with Republicans John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and Jeff Flake of Arizona to hammer out the agreement.
In remarks at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Obama said that Congress needs to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S.
"The good news is that - for the first time in many years - Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together," Obama said, according to excerpts provided by the White House. "Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution."
He added, "And yesterday, a bi-partisan group of Senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I've proposed and campaigned on for the last few years."
Obama said that it currently appears that there is a genuine desire to achieve comprehensive immigration reform, a development that he called "very encouraging."
Responding to Obama's remarks, Sen. McCain said he appreciated the president's support for the Senators' bipartisan effort on comprehensive immigration reform.
"While there are some differences in our approaches to this issue, we share the belief that any reform must recognize America as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants," McCain said.
He added, "The road ahead will be not be easy, but I am cautiously optimistic that working together, we can find common ground and move forward on this vitally important issue."
During his successful campaign against Republican Mitt Romney, Obama promised swift immigration reforms if elected for a second term.
Meanwhile, political analysts say the GOP is desperate to improve their image among Latino voters after Romney urged illegal immigrants to "self-deport."
While the agreement outlined by the bipartisan group of Senators has seen early support, the details of the plan still need to be worked out and it remains to be seen if House Republicans will be willing to sign off on the proposal.
The results of CBS News Poll released Monday showed that 51 percent of Americans think illegal immigrants working in the U.S. should be able to stay and apply for citizenship.
Another 20 percent said illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay but only as quest workers, while 24 percent think they should be required to leave the country.
The poll showed strong support for giving illegal immigrants a path to citizenship among Democrats, non-whites, and younger Americans.
In a press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the president's speech in Las Vegas reflects an effort to continue a conversation with the American people about the need for comprehensive immigration reform.
"It was very clear both from the campaign itself and the results that the American people have -- that there is a consensus developing in the United States on the need to do this," Carney said.
He added, "And what you'll hear from the President today is how we need to take these initial positive steps and continue to move forward so that actual legislation is produced that can earn bipartisan support and that meets his principles so that he can sign it into law."
by RTT Staff Writer
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