(CBS NEWS) -- The seemingly endless budget fight is sucking much of the air out of
Washington, but another big initiative - immigration reform - is slowly
A draft of a comprehensive White House immigration proposal was obtained Saturday by USA Today, and one key Republican senator immediately deemed the president's plan "dead on arrival."
Marco Rubio, R-Florida, a Hispanic lawmaker involved with a bipartisan
group of senators crafting a compromise proposal, said it was a "mistake
for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking
input from Republican members of Congress," calling the proposal "half
baked and seriously flawed," and declaring, "If actually proposed, the
president's bill would be dead on arrival in Congress."
House sources tell CBS News Senior White House Correspondent Bill Plante
that this was not a planned leak. The sources add that the big concern
is that the leak makes it appear that they are trying to get ahead of
the Senate negotiations. They say that's not the case - the Senate
process is going well and the White House is very much focused on
Rubio griped that the bill "does nothing to address
guest workers or future flow, which serious immigration experts agree is
critical to preventing future influxes of illegal immigrants."
White House proposal did, however, contain several big items that would
be included in any comprehensive reform package. It would provide
additional funding for border security and require employers to verify
the immigration status of new employees within four years. Crucially,
the plan would also allow undocumented immigrants to become legal,
permanent residents within eight years and create a new "Lawful
Prospective Immigrant" visa to accommodate the interim status of those
trekking the path to citizenship.
The White House has
defended the leaked proposal, saying it is an incomplete draft that is
only being crafted as a fallback option in case the bipartisan talks in
Congress "break down."
"We will be prepared with our own
plan" if congressional action on the issue stalls, White House Chief of
Staff Denis McDonough said today on "Face the Nation."
no evidence that [the group's efforts] have broken down yet," he added.
"We're continuing to support that; we're involved in those efforts by
providing them technical assistance, providing them ideas. And I hope
Republicans and Democrats up there don't get involved in some typical
Washington back and forth sideshow here."
incomplete draft that leaked, McDonough said, any comprehensive
immigration proposal endorsed by the White House would contain the four
key components President Obama laid out in a speech in Las Vegas several
weeks ago: Strengthened border security, an employer verification
system to crack down on illegal hiring, a path to citizenship for
undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, and
reforms to the legal immigration system.
Rep. Paul Ryan,
R-Wisc., called the leaked proposal "counterproductive" on ABC's "This
Week" and questioned the president's motives, accusing him of seeking a
partisan advantage instead of finding a solution. "Leaking this out does
set things in the wrong direction," he said. "By putting these details
out without a guest worker program, without addressing future flow, by
giving advantage to those who cut in front of the line...that tells us
he's looking for a partisan advantage and not a bipartisan solution."
are groups in the House and Senate working together to get this done,"
he said, "and when he does things like this, it makes it much more
difficult to do that. And that's why I think this particular move - very
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
another lawmaker involved in the bipartisan congressional immigration
talks, agreed, saying the leaked plan "raises the question that many of
us continue to wonder about: Does the president really want a result, or
does he want another cudgel to beat up Republicans?"
complained that the president "has had no communication with
Republicans on the issue, unlike the previous four presidents that I've
But despite the grousing from congressional Republicans about the
leaked proposal, they can't say they didn't see it coming: In his Las
Vegas speech, the president made it clear that he would submit his own
proposal if Congress proved unable to reach an agreement. "If Congress
is unable to move forward in a timely fashion," he said, "I will send up
a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right