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Obama, business leaders discuss immigration reform and the economy

June 24, 2013 at 6:28 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- Business leaders recognize immigration contributes to growth and jobs and also recognize the current U.S. immigration system is broken, President Obama said.

"All of us I think recognize that now is the time to get comprehensive immigration reform done," Obama said before a White House meeting with chief executive officers, business owners and entrepreneurs to discuss immigration.

Obama said the reform would provide "very strong border security," hold employers accountable to the rules and offer earned citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the United States, to include paying back taxes and a fine, learning English, following the rules and getting "to the back of the line."

Those who would gain legal status "can be part of the above-board economy, as opposed to the below-board economy, and a system that fixes and cleans up our legal immigration system so that we can continue to be a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants," Obama said.

He spoke of the bipartisan bill in the Senate as meeting many of the principles he outlined.

"As I've said before, it's not a bill that represents everything that I would like to see. It represents a compromise," Obama said. "And I think all the business leaders here recognize that there are elements of it that they might want to tweak one way or another. But it does adhere to the core principles that we need for comprehensive immigration reform."

He encouraged lawmakers to act so the bill could be completed before Congress goes into summer break in August.

"And if we get this done -- when we get this done -- I think every business leader here feels confident that they'll be in a stronger position to continue to innovate, to continue to invest, to continue to create jobs and ensure that this continues to be the land of opportunity for generations to come," Obama said.

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