Leaked Immigration Plan Sparks More Conflict

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If the battle over immigration reform wasn't hot enough, a leaked White House plan sparked more conflict over the weekend.

Republicans accuse the president of using the issue to gain political advantage rather than solve the problems caused by illegal immigration.

The plan, leaked to USA Today Saturday, would create a visa for those who are in the country illegally. It would also let them become legal residents within eight years, include more money for border security, and call for business owners to check the immigration status of new hires within four years.

The White House claims it's just a backup plan in case Congress doesn't act on the issue.

But Republicans suggest that securing more Democratic voters may be a higher priority for the president than solving the problem of 11 million illegal residents.

"Leaks don't happen in Washington by accident," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"This raises the question that many of us continue to wonder about: does the president really want a result?" he continued. "Or does he want another cudgel to beat up Republicans so he can get political advantage in the next election?"

"By giving advantage to those who cut in front of the line for immigrants who came here legally, not dealing with border security adequately, that tells me he's looking for a partisan advantage," Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said.

The White House said less histrionics and more action is needed from Capitol Hill.

"I hope the Republicans and Democrats up there don't get involved in some kind of typical Washington back-and-forth sideshow here and rather just roll up their sleeves and get to work," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough said.

Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been a point man for Republicans in looking for compromise legislation. He said the difference between his plan and the president's is that extending green card status should come after the government makes a good-faith effort to make sure people don't keep coming into the country illegally and staying.

"And the only way we're gonna be able to do that and get the support we need to get this done is if we win people's confidence that we're really gonna secure the border, we're really gonna have workplace enforcement through e-verify or something like that," Rubio said.

"And I think that's the difference, because the White House is saying they don't want any preconditions to a path to a green card, and that's not gonna work," he said.

Both Republicans and Democrats predict the leaked plan would fail if submitted to Congress in its current form.

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John Waage

John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.