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Committed to immigration reform: Obama

By Lalit K Jha
March 12, 2010 11:44 IST

President Barack Obama has said that he is committed to a comprehensive immigration reform, which is expected to benefit lakhs of illegal immigrants and also large number of Indians living in the US who are having painful years of long wait to get permanent residency.

"I told both the Senators and the community leaders that my commitment to comprehensive immigration reform is unwavering, and that I will continue to be their partner in this important effort," Obama said in a statement after his meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators on the issue of immigration reform.

Immigration reform is one of the promises Obama made in his run up to his election as the US President in 2008; however, he has not been able to make any move so far, primarily because of the other pressing issues including the economic recession, record unemployment rate and the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Today I met with Senators (Charles) Schumer and (Lindsey) Graham and was pleased to learn of their progress in forging a proposal to fix our broken immigration system," Obama said after his meeting.

"I look forward to reviewing their promising framework, and every American should applaud their efforts to reach across party lines and find commonsense answers to one of our most vexing problems," he said.

"I also heard from a diverse group of grassroots leaders from around the country about the growing coalition that is working to build momentum for this critical issue. I am optimistic that their efforts will contribute to a favourable climate for moving forward," Obama said.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Obama had a very productive meeting.

"He believed, and I think many of the Democrats and Republicans left the meeting on comprehensive energy legislation -- left that meeting feeling positive," he said.

However, Gibbs said immigration reform is not the top priority for the Obama administration now.

"Our main priority is jobs and on getting the economy focused on creating those jobs in both the short term and laying the foundation for long-term economic growth," he said.

Before the meeting, Gibbs said: "The President is going to ask each of them today the progress that they've made on lining that bipartisan support up. I think that's the way the American people want us to deal with their problems, and that's the update the President is anxious to get."

Lalit K Jha in Washington
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