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Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Friday met with President Obama, who reiterated his pledge to push for passage of immigration legislation this year.
Immigration remains “a top legislative priority,” the White House said in a release after the meeting.
The meeting comes ahead of Obama’s trip to Las Vegas on Jan. 29, where he will “redouble the administration’s efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year,” the White House said.
“The president was pleased to hear from CHC members and noted that they share the same vision, including that any legislation must include a path to earned citizenship,” the White House continued.
“The president further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay. The president made it clear he will continue to lead on this issue, and that he looks forward to working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and other key Members of Congress in a bipartisan process to move this debate forward at the earliest possible opportunity,” the statement added.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., who attended the meeting, said he hopes to get a bill passed. “The president putting his full weight and attention behind getting a bill signed into law is tremendously helpful,” Gutierrez said in a release. “We need the president and the American people all putting pressure on the Congress to act because nothing happens in the Capitol without people pushing from the outside.”
The delegation was led by Rep. Rubén Hinojosa, D-Texas, chairman of the CHC, and included Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., and House Democratic Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., as well as Gutierrez, who chairs the CHC’s Immigration Task Force.
Menendez is currently working with a bipartisan group of five other senators, including John McCain, R-Ariz., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to develop principles that would serve as the basis for an overhaul package.
Becerra was also upbeat after the meeting and urged Congress to strike while the iron is hot, as calls for reform come from both side of the aisle.
“Immigration reform is not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when,’” Becerra said. “Now is the time and this is our moment. After today’s meeting, it’s clear that President Obama is determined to fix our long-broken immigration system.”
“The President expressed a great sense of urgency,” Becerra said. “Members of the Hispanic Caucus, who have stood front and center on this issue even during the darkest times, are ready to work with the President and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to lead the way.”