Washington: A day after making a strong push for comprehensive immigration reform, President Barack Obama has warned lawmakers that if the Congress fails to move forward he will propose his own legislation on the contentious issue. Obama conveyed the message through four Democrat senators - Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Robert Menendez and Michael Bennet - who are part of a bipartisan group of eight senators who introduced a framework for immigration reform in January.
A bipartisan group of House members is also working in secret to craft immigration reform measures to deal with the problem of 11.5 million immigrants, including some 250,000 Indians. With about 58 per cent of the illegal or to use the politically correct term "undocumented" immigrants coming from Mexico, the Hispanics have emerged as a major voting bloc that largely backed Obama in the November poll.
The White House said that in his meeting Wednesday with the four Democrats, Obama "reiterated the key principles he believes must be a part of any bipartisan, commonsense effort". He also warned that he "stands ready to introduce his own legislation if Congress fails to act" on a comprehensive immigration reform plan.
The senators in turn told the president "they remain confident that a bipartisan bill could be agreed to in the coming weeks". "The Senators said the bipartisan negotiations were progressing well and that both sides were making progress and working together in good faith," an aide to one of the Democratic senators was quoted as saying.
In January, when the bipartisan group of senators was outlining its immigration framework the White House was telling senators and advocates that they were writing their own immigration bill, sources said. Democrats then urged the president not to release his own bill, fearing such a move would stymie the delicate negotiations taking place among lawmakers in both parties.
In his State of the Union address Tuesday, Obama called on Congress to send him a comprehensive immigration reform package, saying both sides agree on what measures need to be included to make the system work better. "Now let's get this done," he said asking the Congress to "send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away."