Axelrod: Immigration reform a ‘legacy item’ for Obama presidency

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Former Obama adviser David Axelrod on Sunday said the president saw the issue of immigration reform as a “legacy item,” and was fully committed to pushing lawmakers to pass a bill.

Axelrod on NBC’s “Meet the Press” dismissed GOP suggestions that President Obama was not serious about immigration reform and sought to use the issue to score political points and win Hispanic voters.


“I understand their paranoia, because it was a terribly different issue for them and continues to be,” said Axelrod. But, he added Obama “wants this accomplishment.”

“This is a legacy item for him. There's no doubt in my mind that he wants to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” he said.

The president, who said the issue would be a second-term priority in his State of the Union address, held a naturalization ceremony for new citizens at the White House on Monday .

There he continued to press lawmakers to wrap-up negotiations on a bipartisan reform bill, saying the “time has come” for Congress to act. Obama said he expected debate on an immigration bill to “begin next month.”

The prospects for a deal were bolstered this weekend after business groups and labor unions agreed on a proposal to create a guest-worker program for low-skilled immigrants. 

The provision was one of the key stumbling blocks in efforts to forge a bipartisan comprehensive plan. The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” which has been working on a deal is expected to unveil their proposal soon.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) a member of the group said the plan would be ready to roll out “next week,” and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he envisioned a vote on the bill as early as May.