Published February 26, 2013
President Barack Obama won praise from two Republican senators on his efforts to overhaul the nation's immigration system.
After meeting with the president, Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said they're convinced of the president's commitment to signing comprehensive immigration legislation. Their praise comes even though some other Republicans say Obama just wants to pursue immigration as a political issue to get Latino support and isn't truly committed to a bill.
Speaking to reporters after meeting with the president Tuesday at the White House, McCain and Graham said they believe Obama understands the need for strong border-security measures.
That's been a point of contention since legislation emerging in the Senate would mandate a secure border before a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, a linkage Obama hasn't embraced.
The lawmakers are members of a larger bipartisan Senate group working on a immigration reform plan.
The White House did not say why Obama did not meeting with the other members of the group, including Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Obama previously met with the four Democrats on the immigration panel.
McCain and Graham have been sharply at odds with Obama over his nominee to lead the Pentagon, Chuck Hagel. The Senate confirmed Hagel's nomination on Tuesday.
The meeting came a week after Obama placed calls about immigration reform to Graham, McCain and Rubio.
Some Republicans had been critical of the president after parts of his immigration proposal were leaked. Republicans accused him of not really wanting to work in a bipartisan fashion.
The members of the Senate group, which has come to be known as the "Gang of Eight," have said they hope to have legislation ready by March.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.