Passage of sweeping legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system is a key to the nation’s fragile economic recovery, President Obama told the nation on Saturday in his weekly address.
“That’s $1.4 trillion added to our economy just by fixing our immigration system,” Obama said.
His remarks are part of the White House’s renewed effort to increase pressure on House Republicans to take up the legislation, a cornerstone of his second-term policy agenda.
Obama emphasized that the measure won bipartisan support in the Senate, and noted that his own Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, called this week for passage of a comprehensive immigration bill.
“If Democrats and Republicans – including President Bush and I – can agree on something, that’s a pretty good place to start,” Obama said. “Now the House needs to act so I can sign commonsense immigration reform into law.”
He urged people to take to their phones, e-mail accounts and Facebook accounts and tell their congressional representatives to support the bill, arguing that failure to pass it would further imperil the economy.
The report, issued Wednesday by National Economic Council, Domestic Policy Council, Office of Management and Budget, and the Council of Economic Advisers, claims the legislation holds numerous potential fiscal benefits.
Allowing more highly skilled immigrants into the U.S., the bill would lead to more investment from foreign companies. That, in turn, would increase demand and spur job growth, Obama said.
By legalizing millions of illegal workers, the bill would raise enough tax revenue to slash the national deficit by $850 over 20 years and offset the strain baby boomers will put on entitlement programs like Social Security in the coming years, he said.
“That’s what immigration reform would mean for our economy – but only if we act. If we don’t do anything to fix our broken system, our workforce will continue to shrink as baby boomers retire,” Obama said. “And without more immigrants and businesses paying their fair share in taxes, our deficit will be higher and programs like Social Security will be under more strain.”