By Justin Sink - 03/26/13 06:43 PM EDT
White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday refused to say whether linking a pathway to citizenship to border security metrics would be a deal breaker for the White House, hours after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she did not think such a provision should be included in a final immigration deal.
"Progress is being made. It's being made in the Senate which is where the Senate hoped it would be made. And we are very much monitoring that process and engaging in that process, but it's not done yet and I don't want to prejudge a bill that hasn't been written," Carney said.
"I think that once people really look at the whole system and how it works, relying on one thing as a so-called trigger is not the way to go," Napolitano said, according to ABC News. "There needs to be certainty in the bill so that people know when they can legalize and then when the pathway to citizenship, earned citizenship, would open up."
Republicans in the Senate have pushed for an agreement that would only grant a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants if certain goals were met. The White House has indicated that it does not believe that the two goals should be linked, although it has so far not explicitly ruled out such an agreement.
"I think what she was saying, and the assessment we do agree with, is that there are a variety of metrics by which you can measure and we do measure progress on border security," Carney said Tuesday.
But Carney also insisted that the administration did not see the job of border security as done.
"I would not suggest, because the president would not support this proposition, that we do not need to continue to do everything we can to make our border more secure," Carney said. "And the president is committed to that, that's why it's a key element of comprehensive immigration reform. Secretary Napolitano is committed to that."
The group of bipartisan Senate negotiators working on a compromise plan hopes to present a bill upon returning back from a two-week Easter recess at the beginning of next month. At a naturalization event Monday at the White House, President Obama insisted lawmakers begin debating a bill within April.
"We've known for years that our immigration system is broken," the president said. "After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all."