By Laura Reiff and Nataliya Binshteyn
According to the White House, President Obama will unveil his plan for comprehensive immigration reform during a visit to Nevada on Tuesday, January 29. Calling reform “a top priority” of his second term, the president will call for legislation that creates a path to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States.
According to House Democratic Caucus Chair Xavier Becerra (D-California), President Obama’s recent meeting with senior members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) underscores “the great sense of urgency” around this issue, described as the president’s “top legislative priority.” The CHC’s recently released nine-point plan for comprehensive reform includes a pathway to permanent residency and eventual citizenship for undocumented immigrants, new employment visas for skilled workers, and the creation of an employment verification system for workplace compliance with immigration law. The proposal is expected to serve as blueprint for the president’s plan, which does not appear to contain provisions for a temporary guest worker program.
According to reports, the president’s announcement will not include the bipartisan Senate working group proposals also scheduled for release next week. One of the Congressional leaders spearheading this effort, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida), has also proposed a plan that contemplates citizenship for undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. Senator Rubio’s proposal, which deviates from the Republican party’s long-held position that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants could amount to amnesty, includes a series of steps for obtaining legal status, such as fines, back taxes, background checks, and a lengthy probationary period. For its part, the White House stated that it sees a “new willingness” to effect bipartisan progress on comprehensive immigration reform and hopes that the “dynamic” of partisan gridlock “has changed.”