President Obama again voiced support for the comprehensive immigration reform bill moving through the U.S. Senate in his weekly address on Saturday, hailing a recent pair of reports that found the bill would actually save - not cost - the government money.
This week, the that the Senate's immigration bill would reduce the deficit by $197 billion over 10 years and $700 billion over 20 years - savings produced by an influx of new workers and taxpayers in the U.S. economy. The report also found that the bill would increase the size of the economy by 3.3 percent in 2023 and 5.4 percent in 2033.
The president said the CBO report "definitively showed that this bipartisan, common-sense bill will help the middle class grow our economy and shrink our deficits by making sure that every worker in America plays by the same set of rules and pays taxes like everyone else."
"According to this independent report," he continued, "reforming our immigration system would reduce our deficits by almost a trillion dollars over the next two decades. And it will boost our economy by more than 5 percent, in part because of businesses created, investments made and technologies invented by immigrants."
He also noted a recent report from the Social Security Administration that found immigration reform would actually extend the program's solvency by bringing more taxpayers into the system.
Mr. Obama has previously expressed his support for the bill moving through the Senate, officially called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, which was formally introduced in April by a bipartisan "gang of eight" senators. The legislation would strengthen border security, crack down on employers hiring undocumented workers, reform the visa system to attract more highly skilled immigrants, and provide an earned pathway to citizenship for many of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
Opponents have said the bill wouldn't guarantee border security and that it would offer both "amnesty" and government benefits to those who came to the United States illegally. But they have struggled to halt progress on the measure and were dealt another setback on Thursday with the unveiling of an amendment that would.
The amendment, offered by Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would double the number of Border Patrol agents, significantly expand the use of surveillance technology along the border, including drones and camera towers, and double the amount of border fencing required under the immigration bill, from 350 miles to 700 miles.
To assuage concerns from conservatives, the amendment also requires all of the various measures to strengthen border security to be in place and operational before a path to legal permanent status opens up for undocumented immigrants.
In his address on Saturday, Mr. Obama urged Congress to forge ahead with reform. "The time for excuses is over," he said. "It's time to fix our broken immigration system once and for all."