Washington: Immigration is a driving force in American economy, President Barack Obama said today as he called on the Congress to pass the immigration reform bill which would provide pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented workers from countries like India.
"Immigration isn't just part of our national character; it is a driving force in our economy that creates jobs and prosperity for all of our citizens," Obama said at a White House event on immigration ahead of the Senate consideration of the comprehensive immigration reform bill.
"In recent years one in four of America's new small-business owners were immigrants. One in four high-tech startups in America were founded by immigrants. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by a first-or second-generation American. Think about that.
"Almost half of the Fortune 500 companies, when they were started, were started by first-or second-generation immigrants," Obama said.
Over the past two decades, Obama said, the immigration system hasn't kept pace with changing times and hasn't matched up with US' most cherished values.
"Right now our immigration system invites the best and the brightest from all over the world to come and study at our top universities and then once they finish, once they've got the training they need to build a new invention or create a new business, our system too often tells them, go back home, so that other countries can reap the benefits, the new jobs, the new businesses, the new industries.
"That's not smart. But that's the broken system we have today," he said.
Obama said right now the immigration system keeps families apart for years at a time.
"Even for folks who technically, under the legal immigration system, should be eligible to become citizens but it is so long and so cumbersome, so byzantine, that families end up being separated for years.
The landmark immigration bill offers a path to citizenship for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants, including over 260,000 Indians.
"Because of a backlog of visas, people who came here legally, who are ready to give it their all to earn their place in America, end up waiting for years to join their loved ones here in the United States. It's not right, but that's the broken system we have today," Obama said.
Obama said the comprehensive immigration bill, would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are in this country illegally.
This bill, he said, would modernise the legal immigration system so that alongside training American workers for the jobs of tomorrow, it is also attracting the highly skilled entrepreneurs and engineers from around the world who will ultimately grow our economy.
"And this bill would help make sure that our people don't have to wait years before their loved ones are able to join them here in America," he added.