(WASHINGTON) — President Obama on Monday called on Congress to pass an immigration bill in the coming weeks, saying lawmakers need to “work up the political courage” to fix the nation’s broken immigration system.
“I expect a bill to be put forward. I expect the debate to begin next month,” the president said at a naturalization ceremony at the White House. “I want to sign that bill into law as soon as possible.”
Welcoming new citizens to the United States, Obama argued “immigration makes us stronger. It keeps us vibrant. It keep us hungry. It keeps up prosperous.”
The president praised lawmakers for the bipartisan progress that has been made so far.
“We’ve seen some real action in Congress,” Obama said. “There are bipartisan groups in both the House and the Senate working to tackle this challenge, and I applaud them for that. We are making progress. But we’ve got to finish the job.”
“We’ve known for years that our immigration system is broken, that we’re not doing enough to harness the talent and ingenuity of all those who want to work hard and find a place here in America,” he said. “And after avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all. The time has come for a comprehensive, sensible immigration reform.”
Obama said the country needs to modernize the legal immigration system and provide a “responsible pathway to earned citizenship” for undocumented immigrations already living in the U.S.
During the ceremony, 28 people representing 26 countries, including 13 service members, took the oath of allegiance and became naturalized U.S. citizens.
“The promise we see in those who come from all over the world is one of our greatest strengths,” Obama said. “It’s helped to build the greatest economic engine that the world has ever known. And you think about the drive and the determination that it took for each of these 28 men and women to reach this moment. Imagine how far they’ll go from here, the kind of difference that they’ll be making on behalf of this country.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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Dylan Byers, CNN
Ariane de Vogue and Laura Jarrett, CNN