The Washington Post

Obama pushes for path to citizenship in immigration bill

President Obama said that he remained optimistic that a comprehensive immigration package would pass Congress in the fall. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Obama reiterated Tuesday that immigration reform legislation must include a path to citizenship for people in the country illegally, a warning to House Republicans who have not endorsed such a plan.

“It does not make sense to me, if we’re going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” Obama said in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo’s Denver affiliate.

The president said that denying undocumented immigrants the chance to become citizens would leave them “permanently resigned to a lower status. That’s not who we are as Americans.”

Obama’s remarks came during a round of interviews with four Spanish-language stations in Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey as he sought to ramp up the pressure on the House to support a comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate last month. The interviewers focused almost entirely on immigration during their one-on-one sessions with the president.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said last week that he would not bring the Senate bill to the floor for a vote. Instead, the House is pursuing a series of smaller-scale bills that would increase border security and add more temporary work visas.

“Some of them are responding to constituencies that may have, in some cases, legitimate concerns about immigration but may not know all the facts, they may not know everything that we’d done on the borders to strengthen border security,” Obama told Telemundo’s Dallas affiliate.

Obama said that he remained optimistic that a comprehensive package would pass Congress in the fall, suggesting that members would be able to talk more to their constituents during the summer break next month. He added that if Boehner allowed a vote on the Senate bill, “It would pass tomorrow.”

“We’ve been working on this for years now. Everybody knows what the debates are,” Obama said in the Telemundo Dallas interview. “It’s time for us to stop worrying about politics and worry about doing the right thing for the country.”

David Nakamura covers the White House. He has previously covered sports, education and city government and reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The Republicans debated Saturday night. The New Hampshire primary is Feb. 9. Get caught up on the race.
Highlights from Saturday's GOP debate
Except for an eminent domain attack from Bush, Trump largely avoided strikes from other candidates.

Christie went after Rubio for never having been a chief executive and for relying on talking points.

Carson tried to answer a question on Obamacare by lamenting that he hadn't been asked an earlier question about North Korea.
The GOP debate in 3 minutes
Play Video
We have all donors in the audience. And the reason they're booing me? I don't want their money!
Donald Trump, after the debate crowd at St. Anselm's College booed him for telling Jeb Bush to be "quiet."
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She's planning to head Sunday to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 38%
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.