US immigration deal could be achieved within six months
In an interview with Spanish-language TV channel Telemundo, President Barack Obama has said US immigration deal could be achieved within six months.
Barack Obama said reform should pass in 2013 and he would put “everything” into securing a deal even sooner.
Obstacles to a deal were political rather than technical, Barack Obama added.
The comments come the day after Barack Obama backed comprehensive immigration reform, and after a group of senators unveiled a similar plan on Monday.
Correspondents say the focus on immigration reflects the growing influence of Hispanic voters.
“I can guarantee that I will put everything I have behind it,” Barack Obama told Telemundo, one of two Spanish-language networks he spoke to on Wednesday.
The president also said he would work with all politicians to achieve reform, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican.
Barack Obama’s plan, unveiled at a secondary school in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, reflects a blueprint he rolled out in 2011.
But while he applauded the Senate effort – put together by a group of four Democrats and four Republicans – the president also warned that if Congress fails to take action on immigration, the White House would write legislation of its own and insist that lawmakers vote on it.
Like the bipartisan plan, the president backed an overhaul of the existing legal immigration system, securing US borders, and offering a pathway to earned citizenship.
But the senators’ proposals would allow undocumented immigrants to start the process of becoming citizens only after US borders are deemed secure, a link that did not feature in the president’s plan.
In a second interview on Wednesday with Spanish-language channel Univision, Barack Obama appeared to diverge from the senators’ plan on that point.
“What we don’t want is to create some vague prospect in the future that somehow comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship will happen, you know, manana,” the president said, using the Spanish word for “tomorrow”.
The so-called gang of eight have said they hope their blueprint could pass the Senate by summer.
Politicians in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are reportedly working on their own immigration framework.