Obama pledges comprehensive immigration reform

June 20th, 2009 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama Washington, June 19 (DPA) US President Barack Obama promised Friday to push for a comprehensive reform of US immigration laws, reviving another divisive issue that has confounded past administrations.
Speaking at a prayer breakfast before leaders of the Hispanic community in Washington, Obama said politicians should work to maintain “America’s tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants”.

“Those things aren’t contradictory, they’re complementary,” he said. “That’s why I’m committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform as president of the United States.”

Pro-immigration groups in the US had become frustrated after Obama used his first months on the job to focus on other priorities including the ailing economy, health care, energy and foreign policy challenges.

Immigration groups have now been invited to the White House next week to consider a way forward, after being postponed from this week.

But Obama did not offer a time frame for when he would like to see an immigration reform bill make its way through Congress. In contrast he has pushed for health care reform by the end of the year.

About 12 million immigrants live in the US illegally.

Former president George W. Bush twice led failed efforts to reform the system, offering a path towards citizenship for those already in the US while shoring up the country’s southern border.

Obama said he would look to manage those twin concerns as the White House tries to get a bill through Congress.

The debate brought tens of thousands to protest in Washington in 2006.

“The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can’t tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law,” Obama said.

“We must also clarify the status of millions who are here illegally, many who have put down roots.”

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