Furore over Obama's leaked immigration plan
By Arun Kumar, Washington, Feb 18 : Amid a furore over a leaked Obama administration plan to put America's 11 million illegal immigrants, including some 250,000 Indians, on a path to citizenship, the White House has reaffirmed its commitment to a bipartisan plan.
The Obama administration has circulated the draft legislation that would put the illegal immigrants on the citizenship after about eight years and would require them to go to the back of the line behind legal applicants within various government agencies, according to various media reports.
A draft proposal first reported by USA Today included an eight-year path to permanent residency, and eventually citizenship, for illegal immigrants.
It also included a criminal background check, back taxes, English and US history requirement and a proposed new "Lawful Prospective Immigrant" visa.
The draft also included increases to the border security and legal process and expansion of the E-Verify system to check employability of potential hires.
President Barack Obama's leaked plan evoked a strong reaction from the Republican members of the 'Gang of Eight' Republican and Democratic senators working on a bipartisan immigration legislation,
"If actually proposed, the president's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress, leaving us with unsecured borders and a broken legal immigration system for years to come," said senator Marco Rubio.
The 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, another member of the "Gang of Eight," told NBC "leaks don't happen in Washington by accident."
Yet another Republican senator Rand Paul argued on Fox News the leak shows that the president is "really not serious" on getting immigration reform passed.
But Chuck Schumer, a Democratic member of the 'Gang of Eight' said Sunday he was not "upset" with the leaked draft of Obama's own immigration bill.
At the same time, however, Schumer said real change will only occur if revamping immigration policy is done in a bipartisan fashion.
"It's obvious that if a Democrat, the president or anyone else, puts out what they want on their own, it's going to be different than when you have a bipartisan agreement," he told CNN.
The White House, however, contended that the administration was not using the leak to float its own proposals.
Responding to Rubio's response, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said on ABC that the White House has been "talking with all the parties to the 'Gang of Eight' effort in the Senate."
"Let's make sure (the White House bill) doesn't have to be proposed and make sure the Gang of Eight makes good progress on these efforts as much as they say they want to," he said.
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)