Washington: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has voiced hope for reform to the immigration system this year and rejected criticism that the United States was unwelcoming to foreigners.
Clinton this week toured Latin America, where many officials and residents have voiced outrage at a new law in the US border state of Arizona that makes it a crime to lack proper immigration papers.
In an interview with Ecuador`s NTN24 television released yesterday, Clinton said that President Barack Obama was "working very hard" to win congressional support for a comprehensive immigration reform package.
"He wants it to be this year," she said.
Asked if the United States was becoming increasingly xenophobic, she said: "No, I don`t."
"What we believe is that Americans have always been welcoming of immigrants, but they also want to see the laws enforced," she said.
"We need laws that recognise the reality that we have many millions of people who are contributing to our country, they`re working, their children are attending and graduating from school," she said.
Obama has pledged to create immigration reforms that would both enforce border security and lay a path for legalisation for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States.