Feb. 12, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Obama Wants Immigration Reform Done This Year

Crowley speculated that moving forward on the issue would not be as hard as people might think. “It’s not as complex as health care reform or energy reform. It’s controversial, but not as complicated. I think that lends itself to a line to be accomplished this year,” he said.But despite the surge of optimism, obstacles remain for advancing the issue. Democrats conceded that discussions on a guest-worker program could be a sticking point for them since labor unions don’t support it but business groups do.“The guest program is going to be where the rubber hits the road for many of us on the left,” Weiner said.Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-Fla.) said past Senate deals struck on immigration reform were not the basis for talks occurring in the House. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who chairs the CHC Immigration Task Force, also seemed uncertain about whether House Democrats would go along with a temporary worker program.Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) said the coalition of centrist lawmakers that rallied around immigration legislation last year has disbanded and it would take work to build it back up again. But he insisted that, as long as a proposal addresses a temporary program and includes a path to legalization, a new deal could be forged.Still, he acknowledged that passing comprehensive reform this year would be “tough.”McCain, a key player in the last round of immigration debates, sat next to Obama during today’s meeting and emphasized that a temporary worker program must be part of any deal.Several lawmakers emphasized that immigration reform must be taken up under regular order. Democrats likely to take the lead on the issue in each chamber are Crowley and Schumer.Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) exited the meeting feeling “very optimistic” that Congress can advance legislation this year.“Today’s meeting was a real shot in the arm,” added Schumer, who reiterated Obama’s message that “by the end of the year or early next year, we can get this done.”

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