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Immigration reform coming soon, Obama tells Spanish networks

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Thu March 28, 2013
President Obama, shown on a 2012 visit to Mexico, tells Telemundo he is looking forward to visiting the country again in May.
President Obama, shown on a 2012 visit to Mexico, tells Telemundo he is looking forward to visiting the country again in May.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • President Obama speaks with Univision and Telemundo
  • He tells both networks he expects an immigration bill on the Senate floor next month
  • A debate over guest workers won't derail reform efforts, Obama says
  • The president also discusses his upcoming trip to Mexico and Costa Rica

Read this article in Spanish

(CNN) -- U.S. President Barack Obama had a clear message in interviews with two of America's largest Spanish-language broadcast television networks on Wednesday: Immigration reform is coming soon.

A group of lawmakers are close to working out the details of their proposal, Obama said.

"I'm actually very optimistic that when they return in early April we will see a bill ready to move through the process," he told Telemundo.

"The most important thing is that we are seeing a strong compromise to resolve the problem," he said. "I've got my own legislation, I'm prepared to step in, but I don't think that's going to be necessary."

In another interview that aired at the same time on Univision, the president made a similar point.

"My sense is that they are close," Obama told Univision. "My expectation is we'll see a bill on the floor of the Senate next month."

His comments to Telemundo and Univision -- in interviews that were conducted in English and aired in dubbed Spanish -- were part of the president's latest push to ignite congressional movement on immigration reform.

If a bill is introduced next month, Obama told Telemundo he was "confident we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer."

Last week a source familiar with the immigration reform proposal negotiations said a bipartisan group of eight senators had tentatively agreed to some of the stickiest issues, like a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants and metrics for securing the border.

But there was a key issue that had yet to be resolved: how to construct a guest worker program for the future.

The senators were haggling over details like how much low-skilled guest workers would be paid, and how many workers would be allowed into the country each year, the source said.

According to the source, the eight senators -- four Democrats and four Republicans, who released the framework for their plan in January -- were confident last week that they would be ready to unveil the highly anticipated immigration bill early in the week of April 8, when Congress returns to work.

On Wednesday, Obama told Telemundo he didn't think the debate over guest workers would derail reform efforts.

"I disagree that it's threatening to doom the legislation. ... I think there is commitment among this group of Democratic and Republican senators to get this done," he said.

The interviews aired hours after the White House announced that Obama would be traveling to Mexico and Costa Rica in May, a topic Obama also touched on.

When the reporters from Telemundo and Univision both noted that many Latin American governments do not feel like they're a priority for the Obama administration, the president described his upcoming trip.

"I'm really looking forward to the opportunity to visit Mexico. I'm going to be there in early May," Obama told Telemundo. "Sometimes the relationship gets characterized as being just about borders or just about drug cartels. There is so much more in terms of commerce, trade and energy."

CNN's Elwyn Lopez, Joe Sutton and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

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