Obama urges Senate to pass compromise immigration bill

June 8, 2013 at 6:00 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Saturday urged the Senate to pass a compromise immigration reform bill but said opponents will do "everything they can" to block it.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said the Senate is to begin debate on the bill next week in "an important step toward fixing our broken immigration system."

He said immigration is a major driver of the country's economy, but "for years, our out-of-date immigration system has actually harmed our economy and threatened our security."

Obama said his administration has "taken steps to try and patch up some of the worst cracks in the system," including increasing southern border security and focusing "enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally."

"And we took up the cause of 'Dreamers,' the young people who were brought to this country as children," the president said. "We said that if they're able to meet certain criteria, we'd consider offering them the chance to come out of the shadows so they can continue to work here, and study here, and contribute to our communities legally."

He said the bill the Senate will take up is "a compromise."

"Nobody will get everything they want -- not Democrats, not Republicans, not me."

However, Obama said the legislation would strengthen border security, "increase criminal penalties against smugglers and traffickers, and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers."

"This bill 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, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who's playing by the rules and trying to come here legally," Obama said.

The president said the bill has broad bipartisan support "from Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, law enforcement and clergy. So there is no reason that Congress can't work together to send a bill to my desk by the end of the summer.

"We know the opponents of reform are going to do everything they can to prevent that," he said. "They'll try to stoke fear and create division. They'll try to play politics with an issue that the vast majority of Americans want addressed. And if they succeed, we will lose this chance to finally fix an immigration system that is badly broken."

Obama closed the address with a call to voters to urge the Senate to pass the bill.

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