Amid insistence from House Republicans that they want to present their own bill on immigration, Presidenton Tuesday admitted that movement on the Senate-passed bill in House is not likely before the lawmakers take a month-long break in August.
In an exclusive interview with a TV channel, Obama said the lack of concern Republicans are showing with respect to the future of more than 11 million illegal immigrants is beyond understanding.
“It does not make sense to me if we're going to make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” he said. “And certainly for us to have two classes of people in this country, full citizens and people who are permanently resigned to a lower status, I think that's not who we are as Americans. That's never been our tradition.”
Although the current reforms were drafted by a bipartisan group, Republicans have declined to accept the legislation unless economic and security issues are addressed first. Most Republicans call it “amnesty” for people who have broken existing immigration laws.
In a separate interview with a Telemundo-owned Dallas TV station, the president warned of adopting such a strategy, insisting that a step-by-step approach to the problem might create a roadblock in the end. “We need to, I think, do this as a complete package,” the president said.
Obama acknowledged that Republicans who have opted to vote in favor of the legislation are currently weighing if its possible outcomes would impact their political images among their voters.
“I know it's tough,” he said. “I know the Republican House members are wrestling with it. Many of their constituents are suspicious of this. Suspicious of what immigration might mean for their political futures in some cases.”
However, he noted that the handful of Republicans who realize that this is truly the right thing to do for the country make him think that the legislation will eventually pass.
“If in fact the House recognized that the smart thing, the right thing to do was to go ahead and send the Senate bill to the floor for a vote, I think it would pass tomorrow,” he said. “So it probably will – hopefully happen in the fall.”