President Obama late Friday said he remained hopeful that Congress would overhaul the immigration system before the end of the year, and offered a stern warning to those Republicans who oppose reform.
“The only way we can continue to place pressure to get that bill done is by making sure that the other side – or at least that small faction on the other side – understands there’s a price to pay when you don’t act on the basis of the interests of the American people,” Obama said. “And so that’s something that I hope we can still get done by the end of this year.”The president’s remarks came at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) at a private residence in Miami, Fla. It’s a critical time for immigration reform, which has seen its momentum stall since the Senate passed a comprehensive bipartisan bill in June.
Obama on Friday bemoaned what he said was the hyper-partisanship that has torpedoed reform efforts. He pointed to a long history of Republicans and Democrats coming together on immigration reform, including under his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.
“We’ve been talking about immigration reform for decades now,” Obama said. “Almost a decade ago, my predecessor, George W. Bush, said that comprehensive immigration reform that would strengthen our borders, improve our legal immigration system and do something about those who are here on an undocumented basis, that that would be good for the economy. And it was embraced by a large number of Republicans as well as Democrats.”
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he will not take up the Senate-passed bill, but would be open to bringing piecemeal incremental legislation to the floor for a vote. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), one of the key members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight immigration reform team, has said the two disparate approaches should not be merged.
One of the Gang of Eight’s members, Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), the chairman of the DSCC, was in attendance on Friday night.
“We have seen the Senate most recently – Michael Bennet was part of a group, bipartisan group that helped to pass a comprehensive bill that we know would add over a trillion dollars of economic growth to our country, would reduce our deficit by $800 million, is supported by law enforcement, clergy, business, immigration rights activists,” Obama said.