Administration officials say President Obama is counting on Congress to draft immigration reform. (Photo/Getty Images)

White House insist they did not leak immigration plan

Under a White House immigration plan obtained by USA Today, undocumented immigrants would be able to apply for a newly-created “lawful prospective immigrant” visa and pursue green cards after about eight years, and after legal applicants had been granted citizenship. The plan also calls for more funding for security, and would require business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years.

A White House official who did not wish to be identified said the administration did not leak the draft as a way to “float” their own immigration plan, and insisted the administration is focused on supporting the Congressional process, where progress on immigration reform is being made.

“We were surprised to learn what appeared to be draft language had been given to the press,” said the administration official to NBC Latino, who went on to say the leak was “unfortunate.”

The official was responding to the firestorm created after USA Today  obtained a copy of the plan, which had been distributed to several government agencies but had not been made public.

RELATED: Rubio: White House immigration bill would be “dead on arrival” 

Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is part of the Senate “Gang of Eight” working on an immigration reform plan, swiftly condemned the administration’s proposal, saying it would be “dead on arrival” and the Senate would never vote for it. Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said on Sunday’s “This Week” that the president  leaked the proposal in order to gain a “partisan advantage.”

But on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said the administration is counting on a Congressional bipartisan immigration reform plan, and is drafting one just in case a plan fails in Congress.

“We’ll be prepared in the event that the bipartisan talks going on the Hill, which by the way, we’re very aggressively supporting; if those do not work out then we’ll have an option that we’ll be ready to put out there,” said McDonough.

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