US & Canada

Immigration reform: Obama sees deal within six months

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Media captionPresident Obama: ''The issue here is not so much technical, as it is political''

President Barack Obama has said US immigration reform could be achieved within six months, in an interview with Spanish-language TV channel Telemundo.

The president said reform should pass in 2013 and he would put "everything" into securing a deal even sooner.

Obstacles to a deal were political rather than technical, Mr Obama added.

The comments come the day after Mr Obama backed comprehensive immigration reform, and after a group of senators unveiled a similar plan on Monday.

Correspondents say the focus on immigration reflects the growing influence of Hispanic voters.

'Clear pathway'

"I can guarantee that I will put everything I have behind it," Mr Obama told Telemundo, one of two Spanish-language networks he spoke to on Wednesday.

The president also said he would work with all politicians to achieve reform, including Florida Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican.

Mr Obama's plan, unveiled at a secondary school in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday, reflects a blueprint he rolled out in 2011.

But while he applauded the Senate effort - put together by a group of four Democrats and four Republicans - the president also warned that if Congress fails to take action on immigration, the White House would write legislation of its own and insist that lawmakers vote on it.

Like the bipartisan plan, the president backed an overhaul of the existing legal immigration system, securing US borders, and offering a pathway to earned citizenship.

But the senators' proposals would allow undocumented immigrants to start the process of becoming citizens only after US borders are deemed secure, a link that did not feature in the president's plan.

In a second interview on Wednesday with Spanish-language channel Univision, Mr Obama appeared to diverge from the senators' plan on that point.

"What we don't want is to create some vague prospect in the future that somehow comprehensive immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship will happen, you know, manana," Mr Obama said, using the Spanish word for "tomorrow".

The so-called gang of eight have said they hope their blueprint could pass the Senate by summer.

Politicians in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives are reportedly working on their own immigration framework.

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