In an effort to continue to keep the immigration issue front and center while Congress is on its two-week Easter recess, President Obama conducted interviews with major Spanish language networks Telemundo and Univision.
During the taped interviews, President Obama expressed confidence that Congress would pass an amnesty bill this summer so long as the Senate Gang of Eight stays on track to introduce legislation the week of April 8. "If we have a bill introduced at the beginning of next month as these senators indicate it will be, then I'm confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer," President Obama told Telemundo. "My sense is that they are close," Obama added on Univision. "My expectation is we'll see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month."
The President rejected the notion of securing the borders prior to granting amnesty to the nation's 11-12 million illegal aliens. "[W]e don't want to make this earned pathway to citizenship a situation in which it's put off further and further into the future," Obama said. "There needs to be a certain path for how people can get legal in this country, even as we also work on these strong border security issues."
President Obama also dismissed a rift in negotiations between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO over a new guest worker program that will be part of the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform plan. This split is not "threatening to doom the legislation," insisted President Obama. "It's a resolvable issue." Currently the two groups disagree over how many guest workers should be allowed in the country (although the latest reports say the groups have agreed on a phased-in 200,000) and the wages they should be paid.
Finally, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to introducing his own legislation if the Senate ultimately fails to come to an agreement. If there's a "breakdown," he told Univision, "I'm prepared to step in. But I don't think that's going to be necessary," the President concluded.