President Barack Obama has claimed that internal Republican politics is delaying an immigration reform bill arriving on his desk.
The bill, if passed, would make 50,000 undocumented Irish legal in the US.
President Obama insisted on Friday that the Senate Gang of Eight immigration bill would pass the GOP-led House, but that “internal Republican caucus politics” were preventing Congress from sending a comprehensive reform bill to his desk.
The Gang of Eight’s wide-reaching legislation, which passed the Senate with 68 votes in late June, has essentially evaporated after House Republicans – adverse to many provisions in the 1,000-plus page bill – said they would not take it up.
The Bill provides for a 13-year path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million unauthorised immigrants living and working in the US.
Obama said during his news conference that he was “absolutely confident” that if the Gang of Eight bill was put on the House floor, it would pass. It would need mostly Democratic votes to do so.
He added: “The challenge right now is not that there aren’t a majority of House members, just like a majority of Senate members, who aren’t prepared to support this bill. The problem is internal Republican caucus politics.”
Instead of the Senate’s bill, the House leadership has proposed a piecemeal approach that tackles different parts of immigration reform with separate bills. And there is a bipartisan group that is hoping to release its comprehensive reform bill in September.
Still, Senate advocates of the Gang of Eight bill are hoping to revive it if the two chambers make it into conference negotiations.
In his news conference, Obama did not disclose specific initiatives he would take to enact political pressure on House Republicans to move immigration reform.
Instead, he touted the benefits of the Senate immigration bill, such as its deficit-cutting capabilities and its surge in resources for the U.S.-Mexico border.
He also said while he prefers the House to take up the Gang of Eight bills, he was open to other methods of getting immigration reform through the chamber.
In June, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Gilmore said the Immigration Bill passed by the US Senate was “a positive development”and was a step closer towards addressing the problems faced by undocumented Irish emigrants in the US and “allowing them to emerge from the shadows.”
In July he travelled to Washington DC for two days to lobby politicians on Capitol Hill on immigration reform.