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Work on immigration reform to begin this year: Obama

world Updated: May 06, 2010 11:28 IST

PTI
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US President Barack Obama has said that he wants to start working on immigration legislation this year, while seeking the support of Democrats and Republicans in this effort.

Fixing the country's broken immigration reform was one of the major poll promises of Obama, in his run up to the elections in 2008.

More than 11 million illegal immigrants live in the US, besides thousands of legal immigrants having years of painful wait to get the coveted green card.

"Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken. And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states," Obama said in his speech at the White House. "But the answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation. We can't start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress. We can't turn law-abiding American citizens -- and law-abiding immigrants -- into subjects of suspicion and abuse. We can't divide the American people that way. That's not the answer. That's not who we are as the United States of America," Obama argued.

The administration, therefore, had been instructed to closely monitor the new law in Arizona and examine the civil rights and other implications that it may have, he said.

Asserting that the way to fix the broken immigration system is through common-sense and comprehensive immigration reform, Obama said it meant responsibility from the government to secure the country's borders.

"It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -- they've got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They've got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law -- and then get in line and earn their citizenship," Obama said.

The US president said he wanted the help of Democrats and Republicans, like the proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week, in his efforts to fix the immigration issue.