President Barack Obama warned Republicans in Congress late Friday that there would be a “price to pay” for blocking immigration overhaul.
“The only way we can continue to place pressure to get that bill done is by making sure that the other side – or at least that small faction on the other side – understands there's a price to pay when you don't act on the basis of the interests of the American people,” Obama told the audience at a Florida fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. “And so that's something that I hope we can still get done by the end of this year.”
Obama cited a long history of bipartisan support for immigration reform under former President George W. Bush.
“We've been talking about immigration reform for decades now,” Obama said. “Almost a decade ago, my predecessor, George W. Bush, said that comprehensive immigration reform that would strengthen our borders, improve our legal immigration system and do something about those who are here on an undocumented basis, that that would be good for the economy. And it was embraced by a large number of Republicans as well as Democrats.”
He said a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill that “would add over a trillion dollars of economic growth to our country, would reduce our deficit by $800 million, is supported by law enforcement, clergy, business, immigration rights activists,” is now being “held up.”
“It's being held up not because it's not a good idea,” he added. “The majority of the American people support it. It's being held up because there's a small faction in the other party that has decided we don't want to do anything and our main goal is obstruction.”
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., met with Obama Friday to discuss moving forward, The Hill reported.
Obama said he would sign any bill as long as it included a path to citizenship for those in the country illegally.
“And, by the way, if the Republicans decided to pass it - and nobody would be happier than me - even though it would be to their political advantage to do it, because ultimately I've run my last election,” he said. “And along with the gray hair, what comes with being President is that you take the long view and you start thinking about 10 years from now or 20 years from now or 30 years from now.”