President Obama's administration officials are attempting to cool the GOP backlash on the leaked details of their immigration reform plan by calling it merely a contingency proposal in case Congress can't pass legislation to address immigration in the coming months. (Photo : Reuters)
The White House is treading lightly in the aftermath of President Obama's leaked immigration plan, calling it only a backup plan in case Congress is unable to come to a consensus on comprehensive immigration reform in the next few months.
Obama's plan, which was reported by USA Today on Sunday, includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. Under the plan, immigrants could gain temporary four-year visas to get legal status--protecting them from deportations--while being able to apply for permanent Green Cards after eight years or 30 days after visas have been given to those who applied legally.
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In addition, the plan also calls for more funding for beefed-up border security and requires businesses to use E-verify in order to check the immigration backgrounds of prospective workers.
Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., were quick to condemn the leaked plan, Rubio calling it "dead on arrival" should it arrive in Congress and other GOP members criticizing the lack of details in the plan on how to fix the legal immigration system and issues surrounding high skilled workers, seasonal farm hands and hotel and restaurant workers.
Obama administration officials told CBS News that while the leaked information was real, it was only a partial draft of half of the bill being put together by the president.
Administration officials also pointed out that the plan was merely a contingency put in place in order to make sure that Congress keeps working on the immigration issue.
"The administration will be ready to move forward in the event the bipartisan process gets bogged down and is not able to produce a bill," the administration official told NBC News. "But our focus remains on supporting the congressional process."
However, David Axelrod, a former Obama senior advisor, said that administration likely made a mistake in circulating the details on the plan to various government agencies which allowed it to be leaked.
"The mistake there was to disseminate it so widely in the administration that it got leaked, and I'm sure if they could they'd take that back," he said on MSNBC Monday.
Meanwhile, immigrants are pushing forward in their quest to making immigration reform a reality. Roughly 300 immigrants rallied in downtown Seattle on Monday to make it clear that they want Washington to find a way for undocumented immigrants to eventually become U.S. citizens.
Maria Elena Durazo of the trade union giant known as the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO, said that while there were undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally, that wasn't the issue at stake.
"We should reward hard work. And these 11 million people have contributed to this nation," she said.
Speaking on the current immigration talks on Capitol Hill, Democratic Congressional Member Suzan DelBene was optimistic about the chances of actual compromise happening.
"I do think that there is a bi-partisan conversation happening right now about comprehensive immigration reform," she said.
However, those like Elizabeth Lara, who is studying at Heritage University in Toppenish and hopes to become an attorney, feel the time has come for Congress to allow undocumented immigrants to be a legitimate part of the country.
"I feel like I am an American in every single way, just not on paper," she said.