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Obama: Time for excuses on immigration is over

Washington: President Barack Obama is trumpeting the economic benefits of an immigration overhaul, arguing that a bipartisan bill picking up steam in the Senate would boost the middle class and help cut the deficit.

Obama would like to sign an immigration bill by the end of the year so he can point to a major legislative victory in the first year of his second term. Immigration is the rare issue these days to attract support from both major political parties.

File photo of Barack Obama. Agencies

File photo of Barack Obama. Agencies

At the heart of the bill is a 13-year pathway to citizenship for millions living in the United States illegally. A military-style surge to U.S.-Mexican border security added this week is credited with winning over some wary Republicans.

Obama said the influx of immigrant-driven investment, technology and businesses would give the U.S. economy a 5 percent shot in the arm.

"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," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday.

A recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, lawmakers' nonpartisan scorekeeper, shows deficits would fall nearly $1 trillion over two decades after the bill becomes law.

Obama didn't specifically address the border amendment issue Saturday, but he did note that the bill "would continue to strengthen security at our borders."

Despite concerns from some Democrats that the security provisions — 20,000 new agents, 350 miles of new fencing, 18 new unmanned drones — are overkill, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said Friday it would constitute a "breakthrough" that the White House applauded.

"The bill isn't perfect. It's a compromise," Obama said, reprising a line he's used throughout the process when Democrats have complained the bill has become too conservative. "But it's consistent with the principles that I and others have laid out."

Confidence that the overhaul could pass the Senate by impressive margins is growing, and leaders scheduled a test vote on the bill for Monday, with a final vote expected by the end of next week.

AP