Barack Obama backs immigration reform bill

Barack Obama backs immigration reform bill Washington: President Barack Obama has endorsed a proposed legislation to overhaul the US immigration system which will allow 11 million undocumented immigrants, including 240,000 Indians, to become American citizens.

Obama requested the Senate to quickly move forward the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill proposed by a bipartisan group of eight Senators, saying the legislation, once passed, will pave the way for the required changes in the immigration rules.

"The bill will provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally. It will modernise our legal immigration system so that we're able to reunite families and attract highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy," said the US President.

He said although the legislation may not provide "everything" due to its "compromising" nature owing to various complications, it will bring in the necessary amendments required in country's immigration policy.

"It is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. This bill will continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers," Obama said.

The President was speaking after being briefed on the bill by the two leading Senators Chuck Schumer and John McCain at the White House.

The Department of Homeland Security in its report released in March 2012, estimated that there were 240,000 illegal immigrants from India in 2011, which are now going to benefit from this immigration reform.

Among the Asian countries, India is ranked third when it comes to illegal immigrants after China (280,000) and Philippines (270,000).

Noting that provisions of the bill are all commonsense steps that majority of Americans support, Obama urged the Senate to quickly move this bill forward.

"As I told Senators Schumer and McCain, I stand willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that comprehensive immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible," Obama said.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida, one of the members of the group of eight senators, said the current immigration reform is broken.

"It is not a 21st century immigration system. One of the things we do in this bill is we change that," he said, underscoring that with this bill, the existing family-based immigration system will be replaced by a merit-based system.

PTI