Obama throws support behind immigration reform, pathway to citizenship

In his weekly video address Saturday, President Barack Obama again voiced his support for the “bipartisan, commonsense” immigration reform bill pending in the Senate, calling it an “important step toward fixing our broken immigration system.”

The bill, officially titled the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, includes a key provision meant to create a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. — a measure Obama fully supports.

“It’s a bill that would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally — a pathway that includes passing a background check, learning English, paying taxes and a penalty, then going to the back of the line behind everyone trying to come here legally,” the president said.

Obama also cited the Congressional Budget Office’s Tuesday report, adding that “reforming our immigration system would reduce our deficits by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades.”

The pending bill, he said, “will boost our economy by more than 5 percent, in part because of businesses created, investments made, and technologies invented by immigrants.”

The White House has played an energetic if partially hidden role in determining the bill’s formation. Top administration officials review each amendment to the bill, blocking amendments of which they disapprove and using their influence to push ones they approve, according to one report. Texas Republican Sen. Jon Cornyn found his amendment demanding a 90 percent “trigger” for border security — meaning a halt to amnesty until the U.S.-Mexico border was 90 perent secured — defeated after Obama, working with New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer, intervened.

Instead, the Senate approved as much as $30 billion for construction of 700 miles of border fencing, but the funds have yet to be guaranteed.

“The bill isn’t perfect. It’s a compromise. Nobody is going to get everything they want — not Democrats, not Republicans, not me,” Obama said in his Saturday statement. “But it’s consistent with the principles that I and others have laid out for commonsense reform. That’s why Republicans and Democrats, CEOs and labor leaders, are saying that now is the time to pass this bill.”

“We can do this, because we are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; a place enriched by the contributions of people from all over the world, and stronger for it,” Obama continued. “That’s been the story of America from the start.”

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