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Obama calls for comprehensive immigration reform

February 13, 2013 09:41 IST

President Barack Obama on Wednesday advocated a "comprehensive immigration" reform by establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship; and by developing a system to attract the best talent of the world to the US.

"Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants. And right now, leaders from the business, labour, law enforcement, and faith communities all agree that the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said in his annual State of the Union Address -- the first of his second term.

Real immigration reform, he said means fixing the legal immigration system to cut waiting periods, reduce bureaucracy, and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers that will help create jobs and grow the American economy.

"Real reform means strong border security, and we can build on the progress my Administration has already made -- putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history, and reducing illegal crossings to their lowest levels in 40 years," he said.

"Real reform means establishing a responsible pathway to earned citizenship -- a path that includes passing a background check, paying taxes and a meaningful penalty, learning English, and going to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally," he said.

Obama said bipartisan groups in both the House of Representatives and the Senate are working diligently to draft a bill, and he applauded their efforts.

"Now let's get this done. Send me a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the next few months, and I will sign it right away," Obama said.

In his remarks, Obama also urged the Congress to declare that women should earn a living equal to their efforts, and finally pass the Paycheck Fairness Act this year.

"We know our economy is stronger when our wives, mothers, and daughters can live their lives free from discrimination in the workplace, and free from the fear of domestic violence. Today, the Senate passed the Violence Against Women Act that (Vice President) Joe Biden originally wrote almost 20 years ago. I urge the House to do the same," he said.

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