President Obama on Immigration Reform: "We've Got to Finish the Job"

The president prodded Congress at a White House naturalization ceremony.

ByABC News
March 25, 2013, 12:28 PM

March 25, 2013— -- President Barack Obama urged Congress on Monday to "finish the job" on crafting a comprehensive immigration reform bill, saying he expects that to be done next month.

Signs emerged last week that bipartisan talks on an immigration reform had hit a last-minute snag. But Obama called on lawmakers to rustle up the "political courage" to work through divisive issues and put forth an immigration bill, one of his top second-term priorities.

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"The time has come for comprehensive, sensible immigration reform," Obama said at a naturalization ceremony for military servicemembers and civilians at the White House. "We are making progress, but we've got to finish the job."

Obama added that fixing the nation's "broken" immigration laws has been a task that has been ignored for years. But he praised members of Congress for taking "real action" to address them this year. How to fix the nation's immigration system -- offering a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants while tightening enforcement against illegal immigration -- is widely known, the president said.

"At this point, we've just got to work up the political courage to do what's required to be done," Obama said.

The president's comments came on the heels of reports that negotiations in the Senate have hit a roadblock over how to address an issue that has long divided crucial business and labor union interests: the future flow of immigrant workers.

Business and labor have so far been unable to agree on a program to bring low-skilled immigrant laborers into the country. Talks stretched into the late evening on Friday and business groups and labor unions have continued to snipe at one another in the press.

But Obama expressed confidence that senators would be able to present a bill to their colleagues next month in order to begin Debate. Obama said his goal is sign the bill into law "as soon as possible."

Twenty-eight immigrants, many of them members of the U.S. military, took the oath of citizenship at the White House before Obama spoke. They hailed from countries all over the globe, from Bolivia to Ukraine. A Colombian man led the pledge of allegiance after the new citizens were sworn in.

"Immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us prosperous. It's part of what makes this such a dynamic country," the president said. "And if we want to keep attracting the best and the brightest we have to offer, we have to do a better job of welcoming them."