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March 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM   |   Comments

Obama presses for immigration bill

WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- President Obama used a naturalization ceremony at the White House Monday to push the U.S. Congress to introduce an immigration reform bill by April.

"Everyone pretty much knows what's broken. Everybody knows how to fix it. ... And we've just got, at this point, to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done," Obama said. "So I expect a bill to be put forward. I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible."

He noted that during a speech in Nevada and in his State of the Union he discussed how Republicans and Democrats were ready to tackle this problem together.

"[Since] then, we've seen some real action in Congress," he told the 28 new U.S. citizens and onlookers. "There are bipartisan groups in both the House and the Senate working to tackle this challenge, and I applaud them for that. We are making progress, but we've got to finish the job, because this issue is not new."

Real immigration reform includes continued strengthening of border security and holding employers accountable, the president said. It also means providing a "responsible pathway to earned citizenship" for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the United States that would include passing a background check, paying taxes and a penalty, learning English and then, "going to the back of the line behind everyone else who is trying to come here legally," he said.

Reform also requires modernizing the immigration system to attract skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who can help grow the economy and so "our citizens don't have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them in America," he said.

"We are so proud of everybody here. In each of you, we see the true spirit of America," Obama said. "And we see a bit of ourselves, too, because most of our stories trace back to moments just like this one."


Abdul-Latif gets 18 years in terror plot

SEATTLE, March 25 (UPI) -- Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment Monday for plotting to kill U.S. military personnel and workers at a Seattle processing facility.

Abdul-Latif, 35, formerly known as Joseph Anthony Davis, pleaded guilty in December to charges he and a co-defendant planned to carry out an attack on Seattle's Military Entrance Processing Station in 2011, the news website Seattlepi.com reported.

U.S. District Judge James Robart noted during sentencing -- which includes 10 years of supervision after incarceration and could possibly have been a life sentence -- reflects a troubled investigation that included a deceitful informant and a detective who destroyed evidence.

The judge criticized what he called the "at best, sloppy" destruction of evidence by Seattle police detective Samuel DeJesus and the confidential informant, a five-time convicted sex-offender who was paid more than $100,000.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Seattle Police hired the informant to get information on the plot, which included taped telephone conversations that could not be retrieved on DeJesus' phone, the Seattle Times said Monday.

Abdul-Latif and his partner, Walli Mujahidh were arrested after Abdul-Latif paid the informant for rifles and grenades disabled by federal agents, the newspaper said.


Majority support drone attacks abroad

PRINCETON, N.J., March 25 (UPI) -- Most Americans said the U.S. government should use drone airstrikes against suspected terrorists in other countries, Gallup reported Monday.

Sixty-five percent of Americans said they think the U.S. government should use drones to launch airstrikes in other countries against suspected terrorists, results released Monday indicated. Twenty-five percent said drone airstrikes should be used in the United States against suspected terrorists.

Forty-one percent said drones should be used against U.S. citizens living abroad who are suspected terrorists while 13 percent said drone airstrikes should be used in the United States against U.S. citizens living here who are suspected terrorists.

The findings were from Gallup Daily tracking conducted several weeks after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held a 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's nominee to lead the CIA. Attorney General Eric Holder responded after the filibuster ended that the president does not have the authority to use a drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil.

Results are based on nationwide telephone interviews with 1,020 adults conducted Wednesday and Thursday on the Gallup Daily tracking survey. The margin of error is 4 percentage points.


Myamnar violence almost a week old

MEIKHTILA, Myanmar, March 25 (UPI) -- Myanmar had a sixth day of clashes between Muslims and Buddhists Monday and government soldiers tried to restore calm, officials said.

Authorities said late last week at least 32 people had been killed in an area that includes the city of Meikhtila but there were no later reports of casualties.

Entire neighborhoods in Meikhtila were burned down and dozens of people had been arrested, the Bangkok Post reported.

Thousands of people were said to be living in relief camps.

The violence began Wednesday in Meikhtila with a fight between a Muslim shopkeeper and Buddhist customer and spread throughout the area, authorities said.

The central government ordered soldiers into the city to restore calm but street battles continued, Voice of America reported.

International aid workers were handing out food and trying to find shelter for people whose homes were destroyed.

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