WASHINGTON — Bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform is a real possibility, President Barack Obama told a group of new citizens Monday, but only if Congress can find "the political courage to do what's required to be done."
The White House hosted a citizenship ceremony for more than a dozen new Americans from across the globe, including many who have already served in the U.S. military. Obama, who has been pushing hard for immigration reform since winning reelection last November, welcomed the new Americans by giving them his summary of one of the country's thorniest political fights. The long-simmering debate may be nearing its conclusion, Obama said.
"Immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country. We want to keep attracting the best and the brightest that the world has to offer. We need to do a better job of welcoming them.
We've known for years that our immigration system is broken, but we're not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place here in America. And after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all. The time has come for a comprehensive, sensible immigration reform.
Now, a couple of months ago in Nevada and then last month again in my State of the Union Address, I talked about how Republicans and Democrats were ready to tackle this problem together. And the good news is that since then we've seen some real action in Congress. There are bipartisan groups in both the House and the Senate who are tackling this challenge and I applaud them for that. We are making progress but we've got to finish the job. Because this issue is not new. Everyone pretty much knows what's broken, everybody knows how to fix it. We've all proposed solutions and we've got a lot of white papers and studies. We just got at this point to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done.
So I expect a bill to be put forth. I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible."