WH: Immigration Reform 'Will Be Good for the Middle Class'

By Susan Jones | April 2, 2013 | 7:59am EDT

(AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama is encouraged by reports that a bipartisan immigration reform bill is taking shape in the Senate, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.

"It is something that is necessary because it will be good for our economy, it will be good for our businesses, it will be good for the middle class," Carney said. "And the president is focused on working with Congress to get this very important piece of business done on behalf of the American people and the American economy. That's his priority."

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President Obama is waiting for the Senate to produce an immigration reform bill, "because that allows the best opportunity for legislation to become law, legislation that fits the principles the president's put forward," Carney added.

President Obama "has made clear that he is encouraged by the progress that's being made in the Senate and wants to see it continue and to produce a result."

Four Republican and four Democratic senators are writing a bill that addresses border security and eventual citizenship for the 11 million people who have come to this country illegally.

On Sunday, one of the Democrats, Sen. Chuck Schumer, told NBC's "Meet the Press" that part of the bill has been drafted already, and the rest will be done this week.

"I am very, very optimistic that we will have an agreement among the eight of us next week," Schumer said. He also said the eight lawmakers have agreed "that we're not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we agree on that."

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.), said it's "premature" to say that the gang of eight has agreed on a legislative proposal.

“We have made substantial progress, and I believe we will be able to agree on a legislative proposal that modernizes our legal immigration system, improves border security and enforcement and allows those here illegally to earn the chance to one day apply for permanent residency contingent upon certain triggers being met. However, that legislation will only be a starting point," Rubio said in a statement on Sunday.

“We will need a healthy public debate that includes committee hearings and the opportunity for other senators to improve our legislation with their own amendments. Eight senators from seven states have worked on this bill to serve as a starting point for discussion about fixing our broken immigration system. But arriving at a final product will require it to be properly submitted for the American people’s consideration, through the other 92 senators from 43 states that weren’t part of this initial drafting process. In order to succeed, this process cannot be rushed or done in secret.”

Schumer said he expects the immigration bill to be marked up and debated in committee this month: "And then we go to the (Senate) floor in -- God willing, in May."

Sen.  Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), another member of the gang of eight, told "Meet the Press" he supports having the bill go through committee. "It will be amended in the Judiciary Committee," Flake said. "It will be amended certainly on the floor. So there will be input. There should be input. It will make it a better product. And certainly if people are going to buy into it, there has to be further input from the Senate and obviously the House will move its own bill."

In a Jan. 29 speech, President Obama said comprehensive immigration reform must include border enforcement, a pathway to citizenship, and a shorter wait for American citizens who want to bring their families here to live with them.

He also said immigration reform must deal with "brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities."

"If you’re a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with the backing of American investors, we should help you do that here.  Because if you succeed, you’ll create American businesses and American jobs.  You’ll help us grow our economy.  You’ll help us strengthen our middle class."

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