Obama: 'Time has come' for immigration action
LAS VEGAS -- President Obama sought to build on gathering political momentum for sweeping revisions to the nation's immigration laws, giving cautious endorsement to a new Senate blueprint and offering more details of his own plan.
Speaking at an event in Las Vegas designed to highlight the growing clout of Hispanic voters, Obama urged lawmakers to quickly pass comprehensive legislation that includes tighter border security, a path to citizenship for many of the 11 million immigrants now in the country illegally and a system to expand the pool of legal immigrant workers.
"The time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform," Obama told a cheering audience at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, where two-thirds of the students are Hispanic. "We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."
Obama's appearance marked the start of his public campaign in support of an issue that has long languished in Congress. The November election, in which 71 percent of Hispanic voters backed Obama, has changed the political calculation for Republicans and Democrats in Congress.
It comes a day after four Democratic and four Republican senators released their own framework for immigration legislation, which Obama said is "very much in line with the principles I proposed and campaigned on."
"The good news is that, for the first time in many years, Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together," Obama said. "At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon."
Even with increasing bipartisan support, passage of an immigration bill is far from a sure bet. While the president is holding off on offering his own version of a legislative proposal, some elements of Obama's blueprint indicate differences that could derail the bill.
One major point of contention is how to proceed with citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the U.S. Republicans are pressing to make that process contingent on tightening border security and improving tracking of people in the U.S. on visas.