President Obama met with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this morning to discuss immigration, vowing that the issue is his “top legislative priority,” the White House said in a statement. The meeting comes just days before the President announces major immigration reform on an upcoming trip to Nevada.
The President discussed the need to “make things fairer for and grow the middle class by fixing our broken immigration system so everyone plays by the same rules,” the statement said.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said they and the president shared a common vision to create a path to citizenship in a statement released after the meeting.
“We have made it crystal clear that any bill that does not include a pathway to earned citizenship will not have our support,” said Rep. Rubén Hinojosa (D- TX) , Chairman of the CHC said in a statement. “In the next few weeks and months, the CHC will remain committed to CIR and dedicate all our efforts to ensure legislation will make it to President Obama’s desk.”
Four out of five Americans support a path to citizenship, according to a poll conducted by bipartisan researchers and politicians on both sides of the aisle are taking heed of the country’s preferences. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla), a Republican favorite for the 2016 presidential election, recently outlined a plan for immigration reform that also included a path to citizenship.
Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, noted the increasing popularity of immigration reform across America.
“There is a growing coalition – from the high-tech sector to law enforcement, from the agricultural sector to the faith community – that is calling for action,” Rep. Lujan said in a statement.
The meeting comes after the president demanded a shift on immigration in a forceful inauguration speech and could foreshadow big moves on immigration when he travels to Las Vegas on Tuesday. President Obama is facing pressure from the Latino community, which largely drove the president to reelection in November, to overhaul the system.
Both sides noted that the next steps were to craft a bipartisan approach to passing reform through Congress.
“The President further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay,” the White House said. “The President made it clear he will continue to lead on this issue, and that he looks forward to working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key Members of Congress in a bipartisan process to move this debate forward at the earliest possible opportunity.”
Latino immigration reform proponents say this is a step in the right direction. “We are pleased to see reports today that the White House has begun its effort to pass immigration reform in earnest,” said Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the NDN and New Policy Institute. Rosenberg noted that for legislators debating the feasibility of passing legislation this year, “it is essential that they take into account how much safer the border region is today, how much better the legal immigration system is, and how much Mexico itself is changing,” he said.