Obama calls Latin America an ‘incredible opportunity’ for US jobs

Fixing the U.S. immigration system and strengthening trade ties with Latin America represent an “incredible opportunity” to create “good, middle-class jobs,” President Obama said Saturday.

{mosads}Delivering his weekly address from the road, Obama reiterated his call for Congress to pass legislation creating a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants “this year.” He said the U.S. border has been secured and trade with America’s neighbors to the south is booming – themes he hit on repeatedly during his three-day trip to Mexico and Costa Rica.

“The truth is, right now, our border with Mexico is more secure than it’s been in years,” Obama said. “We’ve put more boots on that border than at any time in our history, and illegal crossings are down by nearly 80 percent from their peak in 2000. But we’ve got more to do – not just to secure the border, but to fix an immigration system that is badly broken.”

The president went on to offer a strong endorsement of a Senate bill
crafted by four Democrats and four Republicans, an appeal for reform
proponents who think the bill doesn’t go far enough not to derail the
effort. The White House hopes the bill will get overwhelming support in the Senate, forcing action in the House, where conservative Republicans oppose giving illegal immigrants a pathway to citizenship.

“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a commonsense immigration reform bill introduced in the Senate,” Obama said. “This bill is a compromise, which means that nobody got everything they wanted – including me. But it’s largely consistent with the principles I’ve laid out from the beginning.”

He said the bill would “continue to strengthen security at our borders and hold employers more accountable if they knowingly hire undocumented workers,” “provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the 11 million individuals who are already in this country illegally” and “modernize our legal immigration system so that we’re able to reunite families and attract the highly-skilled entrepreneurs and engineers who will help create good paying jobs and grow our economy.”

“These are all commonsense steps that the majority of Americans support,” Obama said. “So there’s no reason that immigration reform can’t become a reality this year.”

He said such reforms will enable the United States and Latin America to prosper together.

“Millions of Americans earn a living right now because of the trade between our nations,” he said. “And after this week, I’m as confident as ever that we can build on our shared heritage and values to open more markets for American businesses and create more jobs for American workers.”


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