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White House on Gang of 8/Rubio pathway to citizenship plan: "This is a big deal."

By @MarcACaputo

During a press conference today, White House spokesman Jay Carney sounded encouraged about the new immigration plan pushed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and other members of the so-called "Gang of 8."

Of particular interest: the pathway to citizenship that the proposal would allow. (Today's story here)

"This is a big deal," Carney said. "This is an important development."

The pathway to citizenship is a big deal for some Republicans, too, and it looks like amnesty to them.

Carney also noted the plan, as we previously reported, mirrors one offered up by President Obama in 2011

Asked about the finer points of the proposal, Carney said it was too early to discuss it all. There's no legislation yet. It won't be ready until March. And legislation, specifics, matter.

"We’re not at the stage… where we are going to negotiate details of legislations that doesn’t yet exist," Carney said.

Carney wouldn't comment on the idea of linking border security to the eventual citizenship for newly legalized undocumented immigrants. Under the plan, ultimate citizenship wouldn't be granted until the border is declared "secure" by a task force of Southwestern officials. But The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reported that anonymous Senate staffers drafting the legislation said the declaration from the task force was "advisory" and "nonbinding."

Carney also rejected "a suggestion that the Senators trumped Obama who plans to give an immigration speech tomorrow in Las Vegas.

"This is not a new issue for the president," he said.