“This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers,” Obama said. “It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally. And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.”
He said most Americans support these “common-sense steps,” and he pledged to “do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.”
Schumer said after the meeting that while Obama has some reservations, “he was very supportive of the bill we have put together and simply wants to make sure we keep moving it along and get something done.... So we’re feeling very good about this, and we’re moving in a very, very good way.”
Said McCain: “This is the beginning of a process, not the end. We will have hearings, we will have amendments, we will have floor debates. But I’m confident that at the end of day, we’ll have a bill on the president’s desk because all the major players involved in this issue are now on board.”
Among those calling for changes was Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union.
“While this legislation is certainly a breakthrough, it will have to be improved to address severe obstacles for many aspiring citizens,” he said. “The roadmap to citizenship should not exclude people based on minor crimes or people who can’t afford hefty fines.”
Bishop Ricardo McClin, who belongs to PICO National Network, a national faith-based organizing group, said: “Unfortunately, the proposed legislation falls short by placing unnecessary obstacles and delays in the path to citizenship and could unfairly exclude some of the 11 million aspiring Americans who are our neighbors, friends, family and fellow-worshipers.”
Meanwhile, gay-rights advocates expressed disappointment that the proposal did not include a new category of visas for same-sex foreign national spouses of U.S. citizens, who are not able to apply for such visas under current laws. The advocates plan to push for the addition during the amendment process.