U.S. News

White House adviser says immigration reform advancing

White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod makes a point during an interview at the Newseum in Washington October 1, 2009. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrats and Republicans in Congress are working together to craft an immigration reform bill that could become law as early as next year, a senior White House adviser said on Sunday.

That legislation could create a path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already in the United States, David Axelrod, senior advisory to President Barak Obama, told CNN’s State of the Union with John King.

“I think some good work is being done on both sides of the aisle to achieve that,” Axelrod said, referring to the partisan divide on Capitol Hill.

“We have to have better security at our borders and we are developing that,” he said, alluding to a key concern of conservative critics who scuttled an attempt at immigration reform under former President George W. Bush.

The most contentious question surrounding past and future attempts at immigration reform is whether to, and how to, ease rules governing the route to citizenship for people who have entered the country illegally.

“We have to hold accountable and responsible the 12 million people who are here illegally,” Axelrod said. “And they have to pay a fine and a penalty, and have to meet certain requirements in order to get in line to earn citizenship,” he told CNN.

Reporting by Todd Eastham; Editing by Eric Walsh