President Barack Obama invited two illegal immigrants to meet him and Vice President Joe Biden in the White House today to help promote the Senate’s immigration bill.
The group was invited last Friday, Donna De La Cruz, press secretary at the Center for Community Change, told The Daily Caller.
The two illegal immigrants are considered “legally present” because of Obama’s controversial mini-amnesty for younger illegal immigrants, announced June 2012 in the Rose Garden.
“They have a path to citizenship because of what the president did last year,” she said.
After meeting with Obama and Biden, the group held a press conference outside the West Wing to promote the Senate’s pending immigration bill.
During the meeting, the president and vice-president listened while the migrants told their stories about parents being deported, said Kate Kahan, the group’s legislative director who also attended the meeting. The group did not discuss legislative strategy, she added.
The White House advocacy is a departure from Obama’s immigration strategy, where he has tried to downplay his role in the push for amnesty.
The bill’s advocates, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, have urged the president to keep a low profile during the debate.
When he does take a high profile, the GOP’s base grows more opposed to the bill, according to polls.
Amnesty for the current 11 million immigrants is expected to cost taxpayers roughly $6.3 trillion over the next five decades, according to a report by the conservative Heritage Foundation.
The immigrants will will generate more economic gains than they will get in benefits, Kahan claimed to TheDC. Also, by allowing more foreigners to legally immigrate for jobs, it will solve the problem of illegal immigration, she said.
The media event also attracted some media coverage away from the series of scandals that have impacted the administration’s message.
Obama’s mini-amnesty, dubbed “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” has already provided temporary work-permits and residency to 300,000 younger illegal immigrants who would otherwise face deportation. The number of people eligible for the mini-amnesty could exceed 1 million.
The mini-amnesty is politically controversial and possibly illegal. In April, a Texas judge indicated that he would approve a lawsuit challenging the president’s authority to offer the residency and work permits to the illegal immigrants. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor directed the plaintiffs and the federal government to submit more arguments by early May.
Advocates for the illegal immigrants have repeatedly tried and failed to persuade Congress to pass the mini-amnesty, dubbed “The DREAM Act.” Those advocates applauded the president’s Rose Garden decision.
Currently, 22 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed. Recent federal economic reports show that wages are flat, increasing numbers of Americans are working in part-time jobs, and many college grads are working in lower-skilled jobs.
The 867-page bill is expected to provide amnesties to at least 11 million illegal immigrants, bring in another 20 million people — few of whom will have university degrees — over the next decade, accelerate the future inflow of immigrants’ relatives, and increase the supply of agricultural laborers.
The bill will also boost the annual inflow of guest-workers above 1 million.
The total cost to taxpayers is unclear. The immediate amnesty of roughly 11 million low-skill workers is expected to spur benefit spending by $9.3 trillion over 50 years. Additional inflows of low-skill workers will boost that price tag, but advocates for the bill say its various costs will be offset by economic gains.