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by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

January 29, 2013 - 11:02 am

The White House just dribbled an excerpt from the immigration speech President Obama is set to give at a Las Vegas high school at 11:55 a.m. Pacific time.

And by “excerpt,” they clearly meant a small portion that’s insignificant except for showing that the president is going to try to take credit for the bipartisan framework announced yesterday by Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and the rest of the Gang of Eight.

“We need Congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in this country right now.

The good news is that – for the first time in many years – Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together.  Members of both parties, in both chambers, are actively working on a solution.  And yesterday, a bi-partisan group of Senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform, which are very much in line with the principles I’ve proposed and campaigned on for the last few years.  At this moment, it looks like there’s a genuine desire to get this done soon.  And that’s very encouraging.”

Last week, press secretary Jay Carney confirmed that the speech would basically be a rehash of his 2011 immigration reform blueprint, making one wonder how much he’s going to try to poach the work of Rubio, et al, as him own.

“These are the principles that the President believes we can now move forward on together as a nation. What has been absent in the time since he put those principles forward has been a willingness by Republicans, generally speaking, to move forward with comprehensive immigration reform,” Carney said then. “What he hopes is that that dynamic has changed.”

Rubio followed up yesterday’s announcement — and preempted Obama’s spotlight again — by just introducing an immigration bill nearly doubling the visa cap for highly skilled workers.

The bill, introduced with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.), focuses on increasing the number of employment-based nonimmigrant visas (H-1B visas) based on economic demand, increasing access to green cards for high-skilled workers by expanding the exemptions and eliminating the annual per country limits for employment based green cards, and reforming the fees on H-1B and green cards.

“Our immigration system needs to be modernized to be more welcoming of highly skilled immigrants and the enormous contributions they can make to our economy and society,” said Rubio. “This reform is as much about modernizing our immigration system as it is about creating jobs. It’ll help us attract more highly skilled workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, which will help our unemployed, underemployed or underpaid American workers find better jobs.”

Rubio also challenged Obama on the Senate floor today to avoid trying to start an immigration “bidding war.”

“In a few hours, the president will give a speech in Nevada. And early press accounts concern me. I don’t want to turn this into a partisan thing, though. Let me just say this. If this endeavor becomes a bidding war to see who can come up with the easiest, quickest and cheapest pathway to a green card possible, this thing is not going to go well, folks,” the senator said.

“We have now a very common sense and reasonable set of principles, and I hope that the president will say today that he hopes that process succeeds,” Rubio added. “But if his intentions are to trigger a bidding war to see who can come up with the easiest process, this is not a good start.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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