The president says "now is the time" to fix a broken system.
President Obama echoed a bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Tuesday in the call for comprehensive immigration reform. Both he and the so-called "gang of eight" have developed plans that could potentially create a pathway to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
"I'm here because most Americans agree that it's time to fix a system that's been broken for way too long," Obama said in remarks delivered from Las Vegas. "I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity."
The frameworks drafted by the president and the senators are based on the same principles: strengthening border security and employment verification, while offering undocumented immigrants an opportunity to earn citizenship.
House lawmakers say that they, too, are working on a plan, so time will tell whether they can reach an agreement with the Senate on a piece of legislation.
If they cannot, Obama will introduce his own bill and send it to Capitol Hill for a vote. Immigration reform will be a key part of the president's second-term legacy and allow him to make good on a promise unkept in his first term.
"Now of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details. And every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process," Obama said. "But it's important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. And if Congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, I will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away."
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(Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)