Obama Pushes Immigration Reform at Naturalization Ceremony

The president wants Congress to begin debate on a bill in April.

Posted: 03/25/2013 04:03 PM EDT

President Obama renewed a call for comprehensive immigration reform during a naturalization ceremony for 28 brand new American citizens at the White House on Monday. He said that the "time has come" to fix the nation's broken system and he expects congressional lawmakers to begin debate on an immigration bill next month.

"We've known for years that our immigration system is broken, that we're not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place in America," Obama said in delivered remarks at the East Room ceremony. "And after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all. The time has come for comprehensive, sensible immigration reform."

The Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" introduced a blueprint for reform in January that included a pathway to citizenship, stronger border security and an expanded guest worker program to encourage high-skilled immigrants to turn the skills they develop at American universities into streams of income for the nation's economy. The group has signaled that it hopes to produce a bill in April.

Speaking to the newly minted citizens, which included 13 active-duty service members, Obama said that immigration makes the country stronger.

"It keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us prosperous. It is what makes us such a dynamic country," the president said. "If we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest, we've got to do a better job of welcoming them."

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 (Photo: Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

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