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Obama in Mexico: 'Now is the time' for immigration reform

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“I think it's important for everybody to remember that our shared border is more secure than it's been in years,” he said in an indirect jab at congressional Republicans who have threatened to block a pathway to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in the country illegally.

“Illegal immigration attempts into the United States are near their lowest level in decades. And legal immigration continues to make both of our countries stronger and more prosperous and more competitive. And this in part reflects the economic progress and greater opportunities here in Mexico. I think this progress should help inform the debate in the United States.”

The remarks come as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a key leader on immigration reform, warned that border security would have to be tightened for many lawmakers to sign off on citizenship provisions.

“This bill will not pass the House and, quite frankly, I think, may struggle to pass the Senate if it doesn’t deal with that issue,” Rubio said on Sean Hannity's radio program. “So we’ve got some work to do on that front.”

Obama's trip aims to create a new relationship with the new Mexican president – Peña Nieto was inaugurated in December – and the broader Latin American region, which often complains of getting short shrift from Washington. In his remarks, Obama said he understood Mexicans' frustrations and repeatedly referred to them as America's natural allies in a North American trading block competing with the rest of the world.

For more on Obama's comments, click here.

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