News / USA

Obama Presses for Immigration Reform

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, June 11, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, June 11, 2013, in the East Room of the White House in Washington.
Kent Klein
President Barack Obama says the moment to reform the broken U.S. immigration system is now. The president spoke shortly before the Senate was to take its first votes on the legislation.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate has voted to begin debate on a historic and contentious immigration bill that would offer an opportunity for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants to gain U.S. citizenship.

Obama said overhauling America’s dysfunctional immigration system cannot wait.

“The system is still broken.  And to truly deal with this issue, Congress needs to act.  And that moment is now,” Obama said.

The legislation being considered would create a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million people who are in the country illegally.  It would also further strengthen security at the U.S.-Mexican border.

In addition, Obama said the legislation would make it easier for foreign students to stay in the United States.  He said existing laws encourage people to study here, but to take their knowledge elsewhere.

“Once they have gotten the training they need to build a new invention or create a new business, our system too often tells them to go back home, so that other countries can reap the benefits, the new jobs, the new businesses, the new industries.  That is not smart,” Obama said.

The president spoke in front of a group of law enforcement leaders, who endorsed the bill’s security provisions, and business and labor leaders, who said it would help the economy.

Tom Donohue, President of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks to the media, Washington, June 11, 2013. (D. Robinson/VOA)Tom Donohue, President of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks to the media, Washington, June 11, 2013. (D. Robinson/VOA)
x
Tom Donohue, President of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks to the media, Washington, June 11, 2013. (D. Robinson/VOA)
Tom Donohue, President of U.S. Chamber of Commerce, speaks to the media, Washington, June 11, 2013. (D. Robinson/VOA)
A top spokesman for American business, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, often criticizes Obama’s economic policies, but is backing the immigration bill.

“We disagree on a lot of things, but we vigorously agree on a bill that makes common sense and takes people out of the shadows, and provides for our economy the people we need to move forward,” Donohue said.

On the Senate floor, however, Republican Senator Jeff Sessions said allowing more foreign workers to enter the United States would deprive American workers of jobs.

“This bill is going to allow more workers to come into this country than we have ever allowed before, at a time when unemployment is extraordinarily high, our ability to reduce unemployment is down, wages are down, and our workers are falling below the inflation rate in their wages for years,” Sessions said.

Many experts believe the legislation has a good chance of passing the Senate, but could face a tougher road in the House of Representatives.

But the top House Republican, Speaker John Boehner, told ABC television he thinks there is a good chance immigration reform can pass both houses and be signed into law by the end of the year.

The chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, Representative Xavier Becerra, told a Washington forum lawmakers may not get another chance to pass this bill.

“We have to make sure it is accountable, because the American public has made it very clear.  We are not interested in going through this in another 10, 15 years.  This better be a solution that fixes the broken system," Becerra said.

Senators in both parties are preparing amendments to the bill.  The president said the compromise legislation is not perfect, and no one will get everything they want.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid