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Obama to GOP: Bush "first proposed" immigration reform

President Obama prodded House Republicans to support a comprehensive immigration proposal in his weekly address on Saturday, pointing out the broad, bipartisan coalition that passed such a bill in the Senate and reminding them that former President George W. Bush first proposed the "broad outlines" of immigration reform.

"If Democrats and Republicans - including President Bush and I - can agree on something, that's a pretty good place to start," he said.

The Senate bill, Mr. Obama said, would implement "the most aggressive border security plan in our history," offer an earned pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and modernize our legal immigration system.


It would also reduce the deficit, greatly expand the U.S. economy and help America attract highly skilled immigrants to remain globally competitive, he said.

At a naturalization ceremony for new citizens in Texas this week, Mr. Bush noted the push for immigration reform in Congress, saying the current system is "broken" and hoping for a "positive resolution" to the debate.

House Republicans have said they will not simply pass the Senate bill. Many believe it does not offer enough of a guarantee on border security and that immigrants who have come here without documentation should not be given a path to citizenship.

In lieu of a comprehensive bill, the relevant House committees are moving forward with a piecemeal reform approach that addresses some elements of the immigration system - including border security, law enforcement, and potentially a path to legality (not citizenship) for some undocumented immigrants.

Some Democrats worry that whatever emerges from the House will be too different from the Senate's proposal and that the two chambers will be unable to bridge the gap and send a bill to the president's desk.

Failure to act would be a huge missed opportunity, the president said Saturday.

"If we don't do anything to fix our broken system, our workforce will continue to shrink as baby boomers retire," he said. "We won't benefit from highly-skilled immigrants starting businesses and creating jobs here. American workers will have to make due with lower wages and fewer protections. And without more immigrants and businesses paying their fair share in taxes, our deficit will be higher and programs like Social Security will be under more strain."

"The House needs to act so I can sign common-sense immigration reform into law," he said.

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