Obama: Politics have delayed immigration reform

(AP) - Hoping to breathe new life into the stalledimmigration effort, President Barack Obama on Thursday blamed thedelay on recalcitrant Republicans whom he said had given in to the"pressures of partisanship and election-year politics."

Republicans responded that Obama's first step going forward mustbe to secure the border.

In his first immigration speech, Obama took Republicans to task,in particular 11 GOP senators who had backed attempts during theprevious Republican administration to tighten the immigrationsystem. He did not call out anyone by name.

Obama dismissed the focus on a "border security first"approach, saying the system is too big to be fixed "only withfences and border patrols." He advocated a comprehensive approachthat would call on the government, businesses and illegalimmigrants themselves to live up to their responsibilities withinthe law.

Obama also wants to create a pathway to citizenship for theestimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S; critics call itamnesty. But Obama said the immigrants must first acknowledge thatthey broke the law, pay fines and back taxes, perform communityservice and learn English.

Without setting a timeline, Obama questioned whether thepolitical will exists to get a bill through Congress.

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