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US keen to usher in major immigration reform

July 02, 2010 09:34 IST

AmericaConceding that comprehensive immigration reform can't be achieved until Republicans join the Democrats in the Congress, the White House has said that if they have the will, it will find the way to reach a consensus on the issue.

"Where there's a will on the Republican side of the aisle, there will be a way forward on comprehensive immigration reform," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, told reporters at his daily press briefing.

The briefing took place hours after US President Barack Obama asked Republican lawmakers to set aside politics and join the Democrats in fixing America's broken immigration system.

"I am ready to move forward. The majority of Democrats are ready to move forward. And I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward.

"But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem," Obama had said in his major policy speech on immigration here.

Gibbs said the issue of immigration and immigration reform has been in the news a lot lately because of the steps that were taken in Arizona.

"We understand that we can't have each State have its own immigration law, and that it's up to those in Washington to solve the problems that have existed, quite frankly, for many, many years," he said.

There are currently 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

"Unless or until Republicans that have been doing this before, that have been supportive of immigration reform, that have spoken out eloquently about the need for it -- until they get back into this game -- and by that I mean into the legislative arena to solve this problem - it's not going to get solved. And people should understand that," Gibbs said.

"You have to have the support of the many Republicans that have in the past believed that comprehensive immigration reform was the only way to move forward," he said.

Earlier in the day, President Obama had said: "Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes.

"That is the political and mathematical reality. The only way to reduce the risk that this effort will again falter because of politics is if members of both parties are willing to take responsibility for solving this problem once and for all," he said.

Acknowledging that this is an emotional question, and one that lends itself to demagoguery, Obama said time and again this issue has been used to divide and inflame and to demonise people.

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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