President Barack Obama said the drive to revamp the nation’s immigration laws has fallen victim to political games and “ugly rhetoric,” and that eliminating an underground economy fueled by illegal immigration will strengthen the U.S. middle class.
Obama, speaking in El Paso, Texas, along the U.S. border with Mexico, said his administration has answered critics who demanded stricter border enforcement and now it is time to overhaul the law to provide a legal path to residence for some of the 11 million people in the country illegally and revise an “outdated” system for legal immigration.
“Immigration reform is an economic imperative,” Obama said at the Chamizal National Memorial, which commemorates a 1963 treaty with Mexico that settled a century-long boundary dispute.
Obama invoked the successes of immigrants who went on to found Google Inc. (GOOG), Intel Corp. (INTC) and Yahoo! Inc. as proof that keeping the country open to foreign talent leads to job creation. Quoting Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) co-founder Bill Gates, Obama said the U.S. can’t remain competitive in the global economy by excluding talent.
“It’s for this reason that businesses all across America are demanding that Washington finally meet its responsibility to solve the immigration problem,” he said.
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