The debate over a White House plan to reform immigration laws is taking center stage. This comes as a bipartisan group of congressional lawmakers are working to come up with a plan of their own. GOP Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida says if such a measure was proposed, it would be "dead on arrival" in Congress.
White House advisers admit it was a big mistake to allow their alternative plan on immigration to leak out over the weekend. President Obama promised to work with both sides on this controversial issue. It’s one that has taken center stage since Republicans lost key support from Hispanics in the law presidential campaign.
As the immigration debate heats up, voters are divided over whether Congress and the White House should make the issue a top priority.
“I think it’s more important that they focus on the economy and creating jobs,” says Julie O’Brien, a California voter. :
“I am an immigrant and I have started a company here and now employ 35 people,” says Rudy Seikay, a D.C. voter. “I want it to be a top priority.”
Border security and the status of illegal immigrants currently in the U.S. have long divided Republicans and Democrats, but a bipartisan group of eight congressional leaders were making progress toward compromise, which now seems in danger after the competing plan from the White House leaked.
"Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident,” says Sen. John McCain, (R) Arizona. “This raises the question that many of us continue to wonder about: does the president want a result or does he want another cudgel to beat up Republicans so that he can get political advantage in the next election?"
“The White House is saying they don't want any pre-conditions to the path to a green card and that's not going to work,” says Sen. Marco Rubio, (R) Florida. “We will not get the votes we need to pass it in the House and maybe not in the Senate.
The president’s new chief of staff insists the president’s leaked plan was only meant as a backup if the bipartisan proposals stall in the House or Senate.
“We're going to continue to work with Senator Rubio and others on this, but he says it's dead on arrival if proposed. Let's make sure it doesn't have to be proposed,” says Denis McDonough.
The bipartisan compromise is still a work in progress with no actual plan yet to unveil, but Democrats say to give it time. Republicans insist there will be a link between illegal immigrants obtaining a green card and tightening border security. The two sides have said they had hoped to have a final plan ready to introduce by March.