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Groups demand action on immigration

From NBC's Athena Jones
Leaders of grassroots groups want a framework for a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's immigration laws introduced in Congress this month, they told reporters after a meeting with President Obama on Thursday.

The president met with the grassroots group ahead of another meeting he was set to have with Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to discuss the progress made in their efforts toward producing a bipartisan bill to fix what the White House calls "the broken immigration system."

"We believe that his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is real, but we also know we want results and so that's what we'll be expecting within the next couple of weeks," said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).

The president ran on a platform that included plans for a comprehensive revamp of the immigration system, but no real progress was made on the highly charged political issue during his first year in office. Members representing a broad spectrum of labor and civil rights organizations said the president reaffirmed his commitment to pushing a bill through Congress in today's meeting.

"Our demands of Congress and the president before March 21 are to introduce a bipartisan legislative framework around which legislation can be crafted, moved through the Judiciary Committee and to the Senate floor," said Ali Noorani, the executive director of the National Immigration Forum."

The leaders, who expressed hope that legislation could be passed this year, explained that the framework they're looking for would not necessarily include legislative language but would lay out the parameters of legislation and would include enough detail to allow lawmakers to consider it and to figure out where they stand.

Salas told reporters later that she wanted to see a bill by April.

Leaders like Eliseo Medina, the executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) emphasized the need for a bipartisan approach to overhauling the system.

"This has to be a bipartisan approach and we intend to be calling on Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Congressman John Boehner (R-OH) to meet with us to discuss this issue, because we believe its an issue that needs to be addressed not just by Democrats but by the Republican party as well," Medina said. "We hope that Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner will respond appropriately."

Clarissa Martínez De Castro, the director of immigration and national campaigns at the National Council of La Raza, explained that the groups sought to hold members of Congress accountable for their previous promises since many of them were already on the record on the issue and called for Obama to step up as well.

"It is undeniable that presidential leadership, greater presidential leadership is needed and the president committed to do that and that's very important," Martinez De Castro said.