Obama calls Republican senators on immigration

Olivier Knox

President Barack Obama reached out by telephone Tuesday to Republican senators playing a key role in the debate on overhauling America’s immigration policy, the White House said. He called Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona and Marco Rubio of Florida “to discuss their shared commitment to bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform,” spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement.

“The president reiterated that he remains supportive of the effort underway in Congress, and that he hopes that they can produce a bill as soon as possible that reflects shared core principles on reform,” Carney said.

The press secretary underlined that the conversations built on outreach that has “taken place at the staff level”—a shot at GOP complaints that the White House hasn’t reached out much to congressional Republicans on the issue.

“The president has made clear that he believes commonsense reform needs to include strengthening border security, creating an earned path to citizenship, holding employers accountable, and streamlining legal immigration,” Carney said.

"As the president made clear when he met with Democratic senators involved in the process last week, that while he is pleased with the progress and supportive of the effort to date, he is prepared to submit his own legislation if Congress fails to act," Carney added. "He thanked the senators for their leadership, and made clear that he and his staff look forward to continuing to work together with their teams to achieve needed reform."

Obama wasn't able to reach Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, who was traveling, but "looks forward to discussing the issue with him in the near future."