The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obama pushes House GOP on immigration reform

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PRETORIA, South Africa -- President Obama on Saturday urged House leaders to produce immigration reform legislation by August, emphasizing that it is critical to move forward on a sweeping overhaul of the nation's border control laws.

"The ball is in the House's court," Obama said during a news conference two days after the Senate voted 68-32 to pass a comprehensive immigration bill that includes new border security measures and a 13-year path to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.

"I do urge the House to try to get this done before the August recess," he added. "There's more than enough time. This thing’s been debated amply and they’ve got a number of weeks to get it done. Now's the time."

House Republican leaders have said they will not accept the Senate bill, and Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has not said if he'll pursue a comprehensive bill or move forward with smaller bills. Obama said he called Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to encourage them to make progress as soon as possible.

Speaking at the news conference here during his week-long Africa tour, Obama said, "One thing I know about why the United States is admired around the world is that people understand the United States is a nation of immigrants. Like South Africa, we're a multi-cultural, multi-racial nation and that makes us stronger. Our diversity is a source of strength. We need to get this right."