President Barack Obama said the time has come for U.S. lawmakers to “finish the job” on rewriting immigration laws so the nation can continue attracting “the best and brightest the world has to offer.”
The U.S. immigration system has been flawed for years and a consensus is finally developing in Congress for a way to fix it, Obama said at a naturalization ceremony in the White House. He said he wants to see debate on legislation begin next month with a plan ready for him to sign “as soon as possible.”
“This issue is not new,” Obama said. “Let’s get this done. And let’s do it in a way that keeps faith with our history and our values”
A bipartisan group of senators that has been working since last year to craft a measure had originally said they would complete their efforts this month. That’s now unlikely with Congress on a two-week recess.
The senators unveiled their principles in late January, including a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.
White House officials told religious leaders who met with Obama on March 8 that they anticipated the senators drafting immigration legislation would miss their March target date and instead unveil the bill in April. Obama has said he would hold off on unveiling his own proposal to give the Senate group time to do its work.
The ceremony was for 28 individuals from 26 countries, including Afghanistan, China, Ethiopia, Mexico, Germany, Ukraine, and Peru. Among them were 13 service members from the Air Force, the Army Reserve, the Marines and the Navy. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano administered the oath of allegiance in the East Room.