President Barack Obama said he would be willing to accept a series of immigration bills instead of a single piece of comprehensive legislation that overhauls immigration policy, so long as the outcome would be the same, according to The Wall Street Journal
A bipartisan Senate bill passed in June would set a 13-year path to citizenship for 11 million people now in the U.S. illegally. That bill has White House support.
Obama's statement comes in the face of House GOP opposition to the Senate's sweeping approach to immigration reform. The president said he was optimistic that Congress would act on immigration by the end of the year, according to the Journal.
"If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don't care what it looks like," Obama said. "What we don't want to do is simply carve out one piece of it . . . but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done."
However, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in response that there was not enough time in this year's legislative calendar to tackle the problem.
House Speaker John Boehner has said that he is unwilling to use the Senate bill as a blueprint for immigration-reform legislation. He would, though, be ready to allow the House to tackle parts of immigration reform including, border security, visas for agriculture and high-tech workers, and a plan to allow employers access to a federal database to verify individuals' work eligibility.
The Republican-controlled House ought to be dubious about Obama's piecemeal approach, said Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, who voted "no" on the Senate bill.
"House members need to be on alert," Sessions said in a statement. "It's not step-by-step if the individual bills are combined into a comprehensive proposal in a backroom negotiation and delivered to the president's desk.
"Instead, the House must insist that enforcement is accomplished before advancing any other immigration bills," Sessions said.
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