President Barack Obama set a deadline for Congress to introduce an immigration reform bill, saying that he expects debate to begin on the Senate floor in April. Speaking at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Monday, Obama suggested that immigration solutions were in clear sight, telling fellow lawmakers, “Let’s get this done.”
During the ceremony, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano administered the Oath of Allegiance to a group of 28 new citizens, 13 of whom served in the military. Obama remarked on the nature and future of American immigration.
“We are making progress, but we’ve got to finish the job,” he said.“This issue is not new. Everyone pretty much knows what’s broken. Everybody knows how to fix it. We’ve all proposed solutions and we’ve got a lot of white papers and studies. And we’ve just got, at this point, to work up the political courage to do what’s required to be done.”
A bipartisan group of senators has been creating an immigration proposal since the start of the year. Obama’s comments were most certainly aimed at the committee, chaired by Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), that has yet to produce firm results. After he was inaugurated for his second term, Obama threatened to submit a reform bill from his own office if Congress did not have a significant proposal for immigration.
Committee members remain split over several key issues within immigration policy, including border control, and an eventual path to citizenship for currently undocumented workers. Obama has not strictly outlined his stance, but has mentioned basic expectations for new legislation.
“I expect the debate to begin next month. I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible,” he said. “We know that real reform means continuing to strengthen our border security and holding employers accountable. … Let’s get this done.”
“Immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keeps us hungry. It keeps us prosperous. It is part of what makes this such a dynamic country,” he added.