WASHINGTON (AP) — Signaling a possible opening in the tense immigration debate, President Barack Obama indicated he might consider legislation that does not include a special pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally.
Obama reiterated his preference for a concrete route to citizenship. But he said he doesn’t want to “prejudge” what might land on his desk and would have to evaluate the implications of a process to allow people get legal status and then have the option to become citizens.
“I’m not sure how wide the divide ends up being,” Obama said of the differences between a special citizenship pathway and legal status.
The president’s carefully worded response in an interview with CNN marked a noticeable shift in the hard-line position he previously took on citizenship. He has repeatedly insisted legislation must include a way for those in the U.S. illegally to become citizens, saying it “doesn’t make sense” to leave that aspect of immigration reform unresolved.