President Obama said Wednesday he expects immigration-reform legislation to be presented April 8 when lawmakers return from their Easter recess.
“I am very optimistic that when they return in early April we will see legislation that is ready to be debated,” Mr. Obama said in a White House interview with the Spanish-language Telemundo network.
A bipartisan group of senators has been working on legislation that would provide an eventual pathway to citizenship for some 11 million illegal immigrants. The president said he does not believe that an unresolved dispute over a temporary worker program will stop lawmakers from reaching an agreement.
“This is a problem that can be solved,” he said. “Most importantly, we are seeing a strong commitment to finally resolve this issue in a way that strengthens our borders, ensure that there is a path to citizenship, the right to earn citizenship, difficult, but a way for people to live their dreams and to make a better life for themselves and their children. “
Should negotiations in the Senate break down, the president said, he will step in.
“I have always said that if there is a failure in the negotiations, I have my own law,” Mr. Obama said. “I’m ready to get involved, but do not think that will be necessary.”
But Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, warned Wednesday against rushing an immigration bill through the Senate.
He said Judiciary Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, is outlining a timetable for the legislation that’s too rapid.
“Specifically, it seems the chairman is arguing we can put a bill on the floor two weeks after the Gang of Eight potentially produces legislation in early April,” Mr. Sessions said. “The massive proposal being cobbled together by a group of Senators in secret must be independently judged and reviewed by the Judiciary Committee in the full light of day. That will take months — not two weeks. “
He added, “No member of Congress who believes in democratic procedure can acquiesce to the ramming through of a thousand-page bill that will dramatically and directly impact the taxes, wages, and security of our constituents.”