President willing to take gradual approach to immigration reform

With immigration reform legislation stalled in the House, and Republican leaders stating their unwillingness to move forward on a comprehensive solution, President Barack Obama recently said that he would be open to taking a step-by-step approach to the issue.

President changes his tune
On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the president talked about immigration reform in an interview at The Wall Street Journal CEO Council. In response to House Republicans’ insistence that the comprehensive reform bill passed by the Senate over the summer was not acceptable, the president said that he would be willing to take the more gradual approach favored by the opposition, as long as it ended up accomplishing the same goals.

“If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” Obama told the gathering of business executives. “What we don’t want to do is simply carve out one piece of it … but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done. … We’re not going to have a situation in which 11 million people are still living in the shadows and potentially getting deported on an ongoing basis.”

House Republicans reaffirm their stance
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., took the stage at the conference soon after the president left. In his own remarks, Ryan reasserted Republicans’ belief that there wasn’t enough time left in 2013 to get immigration reform done.

Conservative lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have described the 13-year path to citizenship measure contained in the Senate bill as “amnesty,” a stance that is making the passage of any comprehensive reform extremely difficult. And that has raised the anger of reform advocates.

“Despite months of backroom discussions and promises, we have yet to see House Republicans’ proposal on a path to citizenship for aspiring Americans,” Lynn Tramonte, deputy director of America’s Voice, an immigration advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., told the International Business Times. “The ball is in House Republicans’ court.”