Emanuel: We don’t have the votes yet on immigration reform


Some Jewish groups, led by HIAS, have been pushing for comprehensive immigration reform by the end of the year. But White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel said today that’s unlikely — not because of the many other things on the White House agenda, but because the votes aren’t yet there. Reports the Washington Post:

Just hours before President Obama hosts lawmakers for a discussion on immigration at the White House, Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel conceded that Obama and his allies on Capitol Hill do not have the votes to pass a comprehensive reform bill.

"If the votes were there, you wouldn’t need to have the meeting. You could go to a roll call," Emanuel told reporters during an hour-long breakfast.

About 20 senators and House members are due to arrive at the White House at 2 p.m. for the discussion in the State Dining Room. Aides to the president said the meeting was intended to "launch a policy conversation by having an honest discussion about the issues and identifying areas of agreement and areas where we still have work to do."

The president will announce administrative actions that the White House has already taken to chip away at the issues, including a modernization of computers that allow people to quickly see their immigration status. Officials said the White House hopes to begin the more controversial debate over a comprehensive approach to address illegal immigration later this year.

Emanuel went on to say that while it’s "not impossible to do it this year," the "more important thing is to get it started this year."

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