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New citizens took the Oath of Allegiance from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as President Obama watched.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais • Associated Press ,

Obama gives Congress a nudge on immigration

  • Article by: David Nakamura
  • Washington Post
  • March 25, 2013 - 11:33 PM

– President Obama helped swear in 28 new citizens at the White House on Monday, hailing them as examples of the nation’s strong immigrant history and demanding that Congress “finish the job” on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws.

“Immigration makes us stronger — it keeps us vibrant, it keeps us hungry, it keeps us prosperous,” Obama said during a ceremony in the East Room that included 13 immigrants who are members of the U.S. military.

“We’ve known for years that our immigration system is broken,” the president continued. “… After avoiding the problem for years, the time has come to fix it once and for all.”

Obama has participated in a naturalization ceremony at the White House for each of the past four years, but Monday’s event took on heightened symbolism. He read a list of countries that the immigrants hailed from — including Afghanistan, Germany, Mexico, Nigeria and Peru — and some wore their U.S. military uniforms.

Obama praised bipartisan efforts in the Senate and House to develop legislation and said he expects a bill to be introduced next month.

A group of eight senators — four Republicans and four Democrats — has said it hopes to present a bill after the Senate returns from a two-week Easter break on April 8, although labor and business leaders remain at loggerheads over a proposed guest worker program.

The effort — which is widely expected to serve as the template for a potential deal between Congress and the White House — will include a 13-year path to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants, a large increase in visas for high-tech workers, the guest worker program for low-wage foreigners and the elimination of some categories of visas for extended family members, according to people familiar with the negotiations.

The legislation will also call for increased border control and workplace security measures.

In his remarks, Obama relayed some of the new citizens’ personal stories, noting that one man from Ukraine had come to the United States when he was 11 and joined the Air Force “to give back to the country.” A man from Nigeria, who is pursuing a doctorate in information technology, wants to be a professor, the president said.

“As we look out across this room, we are reminded what makes somebody American is ... a fidelity to our founding principles, a faith in an idea that anyone, anywhere, can write the next great chapter in this American story.”

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