Many Republicans said Obama had handled the immigration issue deftly.
“I thought on comprehensive immigration reform, I thought his words were measured," Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin, House Budget Committee chairman and a longtime supporter of immigration issues, told CNN. "I think the tone and the words he took were productive on that front.”
Representative Labrador, meanwhile, went on to suggest a way forward on the contentious matter of whether undocumented immigrants can ever become US citizens.
While Obama argued for a path to citizenship for the unauthorized, Labrador recast the problem of citizenship in a way that might appeal to conservative lawmakers, saying what the US needs is not a separate citizenship path for illegal immigrants but rather a smarter legal immigration system that illegal immigrants could access.
“I am opposed to creating a new pathway to citizenship only for the illegal aliens," Labrador said. "If we can reform the immigration system so more people can actually immigrate to the United States, we can allow the people that are here illegally right now to actually take advantage of that existing pathway or whatever new pathways we create.”