POLITICS: White House

Obama: Senate took a 'critical step' toward fixing broken immigration system

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Beltway Confidential,White House,Congress,Immigration,Barack Obama,Senate,Ashe Schow

President Obama released a statement praising the Senate for its passage of an immigration reform bill, saying, "Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all."

In a 68-32 vote, the Senate passed an immigration bill that will provide a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants and ensures 700 miles of border fence be in place. Opponents of the bill claim there are no firm triggers to ensure the fence is built before so-called amnesty is provided.

Obama, on the other hand says that the bill "would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history. It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally — a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who's playing by the rules and trying to come here legally. It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy."

Obama thanked Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Charles Schumer, D-N,Y., but did not thank Marco Rubio, R-Fla., personally, despite the freshmen senator being a major driver of the bill's passage and a potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

Obama's statement, in full:

Today, with a strong bipartisan vote, the United States Senate delivered for the American people, bringing us a critical step closer to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all.

I thank Majority Leader Reid, Senator Leahy, Senator Schumer, and every member of the 'Gang of Eight' for their leadership, and I commend all Senators who worked across party lines to get this done.

The bipartisan bill that passed today was a compromise. By definition, nobody got everything they wanted. Not Democrats. Not Republicans. Not me. But the Senate bill is consistent with the key principles for commonsense reform that I — and many others — have repeatedly laid out.

If enacted, the Senate bill would establish the most aggressive border security plan in our history. It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally -- a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, and then going to the back of the line behind everyone who's playing by the rules and trying to come here legally. It would modernize the legal immigration system so that it once again reflects our values as a nation and addresses the urgent needs of our time. And it would provide a big boost to our recovery, by shrinking our deficits and growing our economy.

Today, the Senate did its job. It's now up to the House to do the same.

As this process moves forward, I urge everyone who cares about this issue to keep a watchful eye. Now is the time when opponents will try their hardest to pull this bipartisan effort apart so they can stop commonsense reform from becoming a reality. We cannot let that happen. If you're among the clear majority of Americans who support reform — from CEOs to labor leaders, law enforcement to clergy — reach out to your Member of Congress. Tell them to do the right thing. Tell them to pass commonsense reform so that our businesses and workers are all pla [sic]

We have a unique opportunity to fix our broken system in a way that upholds our traditions as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. We just need Congress to finish the job.

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