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Obama: If You Like The Irish, You Should Love Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Story of Irish-Americans "yet another reason why we need to build an immigration system for the 21st century," says the president.

Posted on March 19, 2013, at 6:24 p.m. ET

Charles Dharapak / AP

President Barack Obama and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny leave a St. Patrick's Day Luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 19, 2013.

WASHINGTON — President Obama renewed his pitch for comprehensive immigration reform Tuesday, using the occasion of an official visit by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny Tuesday to make his case.

"Looking out on this room it's clear just how much America owes to our brothers and sisters across the Atlantic, and how many of us, myself included, wouldn't be here if it were not for the brave souls who set off for the new world with no earthly idea of what awaited them on the other side," Obama said.

"It's a reminder of just how many trials the people of Ireland have endured. Hunger, Troubles, to the economic challenges of recent years. It's yet another reason why we need to build an immigration system for the 21st century. One that works for families and businesses and the economy," he added.

Obama's comments came on the same day that Sen. Rand Paul laid out his most comprehensive case to date for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship.

Shortly Obama finished speaking, he engaged in the traditional shamrock ceremony with Kenny, marking the end of a full day of Irish-themed ceremonies at the White House and on Capitol Hill in celebration of St. Patrick's Day.