President Barack Obama met with immigrant advocates and labor leaders Tuesday at the White House as he continues try to push Congress to rewrite the nation's outdated immigration laws.
Obama met with representatives of labor and progressive groups -- including the AFL-CIO, NAACP and National Council of La Raza -- for about an hour at the White House. Afterward, they told reporters that the meeting was productive, though they declined to release specific details on their conversations.
Many said the changes must include a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants without delay. They mostly agreed with the president -- not congressional negotiators -- that citizenship should not be contingent on border security.
"We were very clear with the president that what we are demanding is a road to citizenship that is clear, that is direct, and that is not contingent at all on additional enforcement — whether it's border security or additional types of enforcement," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.
The House held its first hearing today. The Senate will hold its first hearing Feb. 13. Legislation could be introduced by early March. If Congress is unable to move a timely proposal, Obama said, he will send his own and ask a vote -- a move he reiterated with leaders Tuesday.
Some Republicans and Democrats agree on broad outlines of legislation that would allow the estimated 11 million who reside in the United States illegally to become citizens. The biggest disagreement is over what the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants would need to do to become citizens.
Both labor and business groups have pledged their support to an immigration overhaul, but are negotiating a compromise on the guest worker program that provides temporary visas to foreign workers.
This afternoon, Obama will meet with leaders of businesses including Coca Cola, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo.