The president met at the White House Tuesday afternoon with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), two members of the working group that crafted the bill. In his statement, Obama said he pledged to the lawmakers he was "willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible."
"I urge the Senate to quickly move this bill forward," Obama said.
Under the legislation, the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants would be given a provisional legal status and a pathway to American citizenship after the federal government took steps to improve security on the U.S.-Mexico border. Those steps include beefed-up surveillance of high-risk areas, hiring 3,500 additional customs agents, and deploying the National Guard to construct border fencing.
The bill would also require employers to use an electronic verification system to check the status of workers, raise the number of visas for high- and low-skilled workers, and set wages to the prevailing level.
"This bill would continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers," Obama said. "It would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally. And it would modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy."
The Gang of Eight had planned to introduce the bill at a press conference Tuesday, but the event was cancelled after the bombing Monday at the Boston Marathon.