Obama: immigration overhaul is essential

June 22, 2009                                                                                            Win a green card Subscribe in a reader

Obama: immigration overhaul is essential

President Barack Obama said Friday he is committed to a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes a way for illegal immigrants to become U.S. citizens.

Obama is hosting a small group of senators

Obama is hosting a small group of senators and House members at the White House next Thursday to discuss how to move the stalled issue forward, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. People who disagree with the president's positions on immigration reform are among those being invited, he said.

"We know the votes aren't there right now," Gibbs said, adding that one way to try to change that is to talk about legislative approaches different from previous proposals.

Obama told the Esperanza National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference that U.S. borders must be strengthened to thwart illegal immigration. But he also supports giving the millions of people now in the U.S. illegally the chance to become citizens.

He said they must pay a fine and taxes, learn English and "go to the back of the line" of people trying to enter the United States from their home country.

"That is the fair, practical, and promising way forward, and that's what I'm committed to passing as president of the United States," Obama said.

He added: "The American people believe in immigration, but they also believe that we can't tolerate a situation where people come to the United States in violation of the law, nor can we tolerate employers who exploit undocumented workers in order to drive down wages."

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