President Barack Obama’s decision to immediately stop deporting some illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children “shouldn’t be seen as a free pass for Congress” to abandon its role in overhauling the nation’s immigration system, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today.
“We have lots of other issues we have to deal with in immigration,” the Nevada Democrat said. “Instead we should see it as a chance for Democrats and Republicans to work together on a lasting answer to the serious shortfalls of our broken immigration system.”
Reid spokesman Adam Jentleson didn’t immediately respond as to whether Reid was planning to bring immigration-related legislation to the floor in coming months.
Reid criticized Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a potential running mate to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for dropping plans to introduce a measure that could grant work visas to some young people brought to the U.S. illegally.
Rubio’s proposal was modeled on a Democratic plan, known as the Dream Act, that would have provided a path to citizenship for some young people in the U.S. illegally who attend college or serve in the military.
‘Now is hardly the time to walk away from the Dream Act,’’ Reid said. “It’s certainly no time to abandon calls for comprehensive immigration reform.”
The Senate last voted on a significant immigration measure in December 2010, when some Democrats joined Republicans to block the Dream Act.
Also today, House Speaker John Boehner said the Obama administration’s immigration directive will make it tougher for Congress to advance an overhaul of the immigration system.
“It’s going to make it much more difficult for us to work in a bipartisan way to get a permanent solution,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, told reporters.
A Bloomberg poll released today found that 64 percent of likely voters surveyed after Obama’s June 15 announcement said they agreed with the policy, while 30 percent said they disagreed. Independents backed the decision by about a two-to-one margin.