July Fourth holiday, Obama urges immigration overhaul
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[July 07, 2014]
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack
Obama told Americans on the Independence Day holiday on Friday that
welcoming immigrants to the United States is "central to our way of
life" as he made an impassioned argument for a new immigration policy.
"We have to fix our immigration system, which is broken, and pass
common-sense immigration reform," Obama said at a White House
ceremony for 25 foreign-born men and women who gained American
citizenship for their service in the U.S. military.
Obama is struggling on two fronts in the immigration debate.
His drive for Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration overhaul
this year collapsed when House of Representatives Speaker John
Boehner, the top Republican in Washington, told him the House would
not hold a vote.
Along the southern U.S. border in Texas, Obama's administration is
attempting to get a handle on the tens of thousands of children from
Central America who have flooded into the country, straining
resources and leading to Republican criticism that Obama is not
doing enough to stop the surge.
The twin challenges have put Obama in a difficult position. While he
has vowed to take executive actions on his own to make it easier for
undocumented people to remain in the United States, he says most of
the recent migrants will be sent home.
This has upset immigration advocacy groups who support him and see
the new migrants as victims of gang violence in their home
Obama's remarks in the White House East Room underscored his message
that the United States would be a weaker nation without immigrants.
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"The basic idea of welcoming immigrants to our shores is central to
our way of life," Obama said. "It's in our DNA. ... We shouldn't be
making it harder for the best and brightest to come here."
Obama is scheduled to visit Texas next week to participate in events
to raise money for Democratic candidates in the November
congressional elections. But he will resist Republican pressure to
visit the border, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Friday.
At the White House ceremony, 25 people were sworn in as citizens.
They came from 15 countries ranging from Australia to Guatemala to
the Philippines to Ukraine.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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