AZ leaders react to Obama's immigration speech - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

AZ leaders react to Obama's immigration speech

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President Barack Obama delivering an immigration speech on Tuesday. President Barack Obama delivering an immigration speech on Tuesday.
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PHOENIX (CBS5) -

Arizona Sen. John McCain said he is "cautiously optimistic" that Republicans can find "common ground" with the Obama administration on immigration reform.

McCain and other Arizona leaders reacted to President Barack Obama's immigration overhaul speech he delivered in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama said "now is the time" to fix broken immigration laws," and that Congress is showing "a genuine desire to get this done soon." [Related: Obama on immigration overhaul]

McCain issued this statement following the president's address:

"I appreciate the President's support for our bipartisan effort on comprehensive immigration reform. While there are some differences in our approaches to this issue, we share the belief that any reform must recognize America as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

"We should all agree that border security and enforcement is particularly important in order to ensure that we don't repeat the mistakes of the 1986 immigration reform. The road ahead will be not be easy, but I am cautiously optimistic that working together, we can find common ground and move forward on this vitally important issue."

President Obama applauded a rare show of bipartisanship between the White House and Senate lawmakers on basic plans for putting millions of illegal immigrants on a pathway to citizenship and tightening security at the borders.

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona found fault with Obama's plan: 

"The bipartisan Senate framework deems border security a priority by making eventual citizenship contingent on measurable increases in border security. The President's proposal does not contain similar language. This provision is key to ensuring that border security is achieved, and is also necessary to ensure that a reform package can actually move through Congress.

"The President's proposal is also silent on a temporary worker program that will be needed to ensure that future labor needs are addressed. This was one of the major failures of the 1986 immigration law, and we can't repeat that mistake here."

Members of the Arizona Latino Caucus applauded the efforts of the president and members of the U.S. Senate to "bring focus and common sense to the immigration debate." Rep. Martin Quezada of Phoenix District 29, issued this statement:

"The federal government needs to lead the national discussion about immigration reform. The proposals from the president and from members of the U.S. Senate are indications that people in Washington are ready to focus on this issue.

"Getting everyone at the table and committed to finding a solution are some of the biggest challenges we have faced during the immigration debate. Now that has happened and we are ready to work. We are ready for common-sense, comprehensive reform."

U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, an Arizona Democrat, issued the following statement:

"The devil is in the details. But I was very encouraged to see that there was great similarity between the President's principles and those of the bipartisan task force on immigration in the Senate. Hopefully, very soon, the Senate will begin the debate so that we can come out with a common sense immigration reform bill that's greatly needed. Now is the time to pass it."

Most of the recommendations Obama made Tuesday were not new. They were included in the immigration blueprint he released in 2011, but he exerted little political capital to get it passed by Congress, to the disappointment of many Hispanics.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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