Washington: US President Barack Obama has asked Americans to use all communication means to prod their Republican lawmakers to pass a landmark immigration reform bill that would boost economy and create a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, including over 240,000 Indians.
In his latest weekly Internet and radio address, Obama recalled that two weeks ago, a large bipartisan majority of Senators voted to pass commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform – taking an important step towards fixing our broken immigration system once and for all. "This bill was a compromise, and neither side got everything they wanted. But it was largely consistent with the key principles of commonsense reform that most of us in both parties have repeatedly laid out," Obama said.
"If passed, the Senate's plan would build on the historic gains we've made in border security over the past four years with the most aggressive border security plan in our history. "It would offer a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million people who are in this country illegally – a pathway that includes paying penalties, learning English, and going to the end of the line behind everyone trying to come here legally. And it would modernise our legal immigration system to make it more consistent with our values," he said.
Obama's message aired on Saturday was aimed at the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, which has balked at approving the bipartisan Senate bill. Long supportive of the Senate measure, Obama and his aides have pushed the House of Representatives to take up the immigration reform bill, which includes a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants and strict border security provisions. There are some 240,000 Indians in the category of undocumented immigrants in the US.
Some House Republicans have been resistant of the Senate -approved legislation, however, saying any pathway to citizenship amounts to amnesty. But Obama said, the US House of Representatives must act now on the immigration bill. "Now the House needs to act so I can sign commonsense immigration reform into law. And if you agree, tell your Representatives that now is the time. Call or email or post on their Facebook walls and ask them to get this done. Because together, we can grow our economy and keep America strong for years to come," the US President said.
Obama also underlined that the Senate's plan would also provide a big boost to recovery of the US economy. Pointing to a report released Wednesday by independent, nonpartisan economists and experts, Obama noted that the study concluded that, if the Senate's plan becomes law, the US economy will be 5 per cent larger in two decades compared to the status quo.
"That's $ 1.4 trillion added to our economy just by fixing our immigration system," the US President said. "Here in America, we've always been a nation of immigrants. That's what's kept our workforce dynamic, our businesses on the cutting edge, and our economy the strongest in the world. But under the current system, too many smart, hardworking immigrants are prevented from contributing to that success," he said.
He emphasised that immigration reform would make it easier for highly-skilled immigrants and those who study at American colleges and universities to start businesses and create jobs in the country. "Foreign companies would be more likely to invest here. The demand for goods and services would go up – creating more jobs for American workers," he said.
Every worker and business would be required to pay their fair share in taxes, reducing our deficit by nearly $ 850 billion over the next two decades, Obama said. "That's what immigration reform would mean for our economy – but only if we act. If we don't do anything to fix our broken system, our workforce will continue to shrink as baby boomers retire.
"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 programmes like Social Security will be under more strain," Obama warned.
"If Democrats and Republicans – including President (George W) Bush and I – can agree on something, that's a pretty good place to start," Obama added. If the bill become law, it would be the most far-reaching immigration reform passed in nearly 30 years and a major achievement for Obama in his second innings at the White House.