Obama warns Congress not to delay on immigration reform

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto after a joint news conference at the National Palace in Mexico City May 2, 2013.

By Michael O’Brien, Political Reporter, NBC News

President Barack Obama warned lawmakers against erecting unnecessarily high benchmarks for a pending overhaul of immigration laws, suggesting they would excuse inaction by Congress.

The president, following a meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, said that he remained “optimistic” that Congress could produce a comprehensive immigration reform law this year – an issue of particular importance to millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans residing in the United States.

But, responding to Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s suggestion that the bipartisan immigration law he helped produce might need even stronger provisions on border security in order to win the necessary votes for passage, Obama warned members of Congress.

“Frankly, we put enormous resources into border security.  There are areas where, frankly, there is more work to be done,” Obama said. “But what I’m not going to do is go along with something where we’re looking for an excuse not to do it.”

In an interview on Wednesday with conservative talker Sean Hannity, Rubio, a member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that authored a new immigration law, said the aspects in the law dealing with border security might need more work.

The National Review’s Robert Costa and VOTO Latino’s Maria Teresa Kumar join Daily Rundown guest host Luke Russert to discuss immigration reform.

“The part we still have to do some work on is this border stuff,” Rubio said. “And as I said yesterday … this bill will not pass the House and quite frankly I think will struggle to pass the Senate if it doesn’t deal with that issue.”

Conservatives have demanded stronger border provisions as part of a broad immigration reform deal in exchange for creating a pathway to citizenship for those currently residing in the United States without any documentation.

Peña Nieto, for his part, said that the Mexican government “understands that this is a domestic affair for the U.S.” and wished its northern neighbor the best of luck in its reform efforts.