Thousands of demonstrators gather in Los Angeles on May 1, 2013, as part of May Day national marches and rallies, energized by the possibility of immigration reform. The demonstrations are intended to press Congress to enact legislation ending deportations. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- President Obama warned advocates altering a comprehensive, bipartisan immigration bill could derail U.S. Senate leaders' strategy to win a possible 70 votes.
While much attention has been focused on opposition to the bill by some Republicans, Obama and other Democrats are working a behind-the-scenes campaign aimed at appeasing those who argue the Senate bill excludes too many illegal immigrants and makes it too hard for the rest to gain citizenship, The Washington Post reported.
In a meeting with Latino leaders at the White House Wednesday, Obama said securing a large margin in the Senate is critical to pressure House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to accept the general framework of the legislation.
Participants told the Post the president made it clear he expected the people attending the meeting to support the proposal even if they had concerns about some of its provisions. Once an overall plan was locked down by Congress, the administration could revisit and address some of their concerns, the president told the group.
"He said, 'If the bill were presented on my desk today, I would sign it,' " said Janet Murguia, president of the National Council of La Raza, who attended the meeting. "He looked at the advocates and said, 'We're not going to get everything we want in this.' "
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday legislation produced by the so-called Gang of Eight represents progress and is in "keeping with the president's principles."
Obama has made it clear he believes the best path "would be through the work of the Gang of Eight and the efforts to craft bipartisan legislation," Carney said in his daily media briefing. "And the president hopes that progress will continue and we will see a bill emerge from committee and then from the Senate that has broad bipartisan support, and then, eventually, emerges from Congress in a form that he can sign. And that would be a major accomplishment. But obviously, there are hurdles to clear."
Meanwhile, gay rights advocates said they expect Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., to introduce language that would provide visas to foreign same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens, the Post reported. Such a provision, Republicans said, could kill the bill.
Carney said the White House is in regular contact with "all of the major players."
"[We] have said that we support that provision, but we also think it's very important to recognize that the overall bill here accomplishes what the president believes needs to be accomplished and is in keeping with his principles."