In interviews with two Spanish-language television networks on March 27, President Obama expressed optimism that immigration reform legislation being drafted by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” group of senators will be passed this summer.
Fox News cited the president’s statement that he is still prepared to step in with his own bill if talks among the senators break down, but he doesn't expect that intervention to be necessary.
"If we have a bill introduced at the beginning of next month as these senators indicate it will be, then I'm confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer," Obama told Hialeah, Florida-based Telemundo (the second-largest Spanish-language network in the United States).
Observers attribute Obama’s hand-off to Congress to draft an immigration reform package as being part of the White House political strategy. Fox notes that Obama “and his advisers have calculated that a bill crafted by Capitol Hill stands a better chance of winning Republican support than one overtly influenced by the president.”
ABC News quoted from Obama’s interview with Doral, Florida-based Univision (which has the largest audience of Spanish-language television viewers in the world according to Nielsen): "I'm actually optimistic that when they get back they will introduce a bill," said Obama. "My sense is that they have come close and my expectation is that we'll actually see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month."
Obama was unwilling to commit to taking action of his own if members of Congress fail to introduce an immigration bill in April, replying, "I'm not going to presuppose that they don't [reach an agreement].”
During the interview, Obama touched on what he and some Republicans call a “path to citizenship,” which effectively grants amnesty to some illegal immigrants. He stated that many of the 11 million “undocumented” immigrants living in the United States "have invested their lives here, many of them with American-born children." It's essential, he added, that "they have an opportunity to earn their way — a difficult path but a certain path — toward citizenship."
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Photo of President Barack Obama: AP Images