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

As AIDS Epidemic Matures, Workplaces Adapt

Issue of AIDS in workplace is one of many social issues being discussed at the 20th International Aids Conference in Australia More

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid