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Pelosi: Immigration Reform Would Require "Presidential Leadership"


Arizona's tough new immigration law invigorated pro-immigration advocates in their call for comprehensive immigration reform, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made it clear today that the House will decline to take the lead in that effort.

"The legislation would have to begin in the senate" Pelosi told reporters for the second week in a row.

Pelosi said there's a "good deal of support" for legislation that would secure the borders, enforce immigration laws and provide an eventual path to legalization for illegal immigrants currently in the country, but the House will wait to see what the Senate can do.

The president admitted to reporters on Air Force One yesterday that there may "not be an appetite" in Congress to get immigration done this year after taking on so many controversial issues and it being an election year.

When asked about his comments today, Pelosi said pointedly that "if there is going to be any movement in this regard, it will require presidential leadership."

On whether the House will take any action to condemn Arizona's immigration law, Pelosi said that she would prefer to exhaust other options first, leaving it to the courts or even a referendum that would allow Arizona voters to stay the implementation of the law.

Pelosi's comments were made as Senate Democrats prepared to unveil an outline of an immigration bill this afternoon that would attempt to secure the border first, before allowing any illegal immigrants to change their status.

Democrats hope they can attract some Republican support, but time is not on their side for floor action as the November election rapidly approaches. The Senate is currently debating financial reform and could be on it for weeks. And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday that the Senate will take up climate legislation before bringing up any immigration reform bill.

More Coverage of Immigration:

Photos: Immigration Protests
Boehner: "Not a Chance" Immigration Reform will Pass this Year
More City Councils Move Toward Arizona Boycotts
Religious Leaders Mobilize Against Arizona Immigration Law
Two Lawsuits Challenge Arizona Immigration Law
Arizona Immigration Boycott Zeroes in on Baseball
Will Other States Follow Arizona's Lead on Immigration?
Illegal Immigrants Leaving Arizona Over New Law
Fury over Immigrant Law
Politics of Immigration Reform

Jill Jackson is a CBS News Capitol Hill Producer. You can read more of her posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow her on Twitter.
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