With the U.S. Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill gaining momentum, President Barack Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to give a “sense of certainty” to the 11 million undocumented people presently in the country, if everyone is playing by the same rules.
In a White House press conference, Obama emphasized the progress that has been made over the years to improve border security and deportation. He also reminded lawmakers that immigrants are a driving force of the economy.
“If you’re actually serious and sincere about fixing a broken system, then this is the vehicle to do it,” Obama said. He also warned that this isn’t the time to play procedural games.
Lawmakers in the Senate are currently debating a comprehensive immigration reform bill they hope will pass before year’s end. The bill will offer a 13-year path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. and spend at least another $4.5 billion on border security. Those immigrants will also need to pay taxes and go to the back of the line.
“This is no cake walk,” Obama said. “It’s the only way we can make sure everyone who is here is playing by the same rules.”
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The 2013 immigration reform bill is the closest lawmakers have come to a compromise in decades. It was drafted by a bipartisan group of four Republicans and four Democrats. Bill amendments will be offered Tuesday in order to try and improve it.
“This bill isn’t perfect,” Obama said. “It’s a compromise. Going forward nobody is going to get everything they want.”