WASHINGTON, June 22 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged Americans to pressure Congress to pass legislation "to fix our broken immigration system once and for all."
In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president enumerated arguments in favor of a bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Friday would come up for a Senate vote before Congress leaves Washington for the Fourth of July holiday.
Obama said the bill would "continue to strengthen security at our borders, and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers, so they won't have an unfair advantage over businesses that follow the law."
"It's a bill that would modernize the legal immigration system so that, as we train American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, we're also attracting the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who grow our economy for everyone.
"It's a bill that would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally -- a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, then going to the back of the line behind everyone trying to come here legally," Obama said.
The president noted a non-partisan Congressional Budget Office report concluded this week the reform legislation will reduce the federal deficit by "by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades. And it will boost our economy by more than 5 percent, in part because of businesses created, investments made, and technologies invented by immigrants."
He said the agency that monitors Social Security's finances concluded the bill "would actually strengthen the long-term health and solvency of Social Security for future generations."
"Now, the bill isn't perfect," Obama said. "It's a compromise. Nobody is going to get everything they want -- not Democrats, not Republicans, not me. But it's consistent with the principles that I and others have laid out for commonsense reform. That's why Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, are saying that now is the time to pass this bill."
The president urged listeners to tell their congressional representatives "the time for excuses is over; it's time to fix our broken immigration system once and for all."