President Barack Obama makes a point on immigration reform in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on October 24, 2013. The president called on congress to pass an immigration reform bill by the end of the year that would provide a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants living in the United States illegally, and also tighten border security. At left is Vice President Joe Biden. UPI/Pat Benic | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday again called on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform before the end of the year.
"It's good for economy. It's good for national security. It's good for our people and we should do it this year," the president said in a statement as he was flanked by business, faith leaders and immigration reform activists. "Everybody knows our current immigration system is broken ... across the political spectrum."
The issue has been "kicked down road far too long," he said.
The Senate has already passed a sweeping, bipartisan immigration reform bill, he said, and the House should do likewise.
The Senate measure would strengthen borders, modernize the legal immigration system by ensuring everyone "plays by the same rules," allow a pathway to earned citizenship provided certain criteria are met and level the playing field among workers by cracking down on employers hiring illegal immigrants to undercut the competition.
While it doesn't meet all the requirements sought by Democrats or Republicans, the Senate bill addresses the core challenges of creating an immigration system that is true to the tenets of the United States "being a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants," Obama said.
"I just believe this is the right thing to do," he said.
Noting that much in Washington is seen through a political prism, Obama said he believed "that good policy is good politics in this instance."
Those concerned about the politics of immigration reform that address border security and includes a path to earned citizenship should look at the polls, Obama said.
"The American people support this," he said. "Everybody wins here if we work to get this done."
If House Republicans have a reason why broad reforms shouldn't be passed, "I haven't heard it," Obama said.
Soon after the Senate approved its version of immigration reform, developed by a bipartisan "Gang of Eight" group, House leaders said they preferred to take up immigration reform on a more piecemeal approach.
On Wednesday, however, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, didn't rule out bringing up immigration reform legislation during the time remaining on the 2013 legislative calendar, The Washington post reported.
"I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed. And I'm hopeful," Boehner said.
Obama said House Democratic leaders introduced a bill similar to the Senate bill.
"Now it's up to the Republicans in the House to decide whether immigration reform is a reality or not," Obama said, adding that many House Republicans agree that the immigration system needs to be fixed.
"If House Republicans have new and different additional ideas for how we should move forward, then we wanna hear them," Obama said. "I'll be listening."
"But what we can't do is sweep problem under the rug one more time," he said.
"Let's get this done," Obama said. "Let's see if we can get this done this year."