WASHINGTON, July 1 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Thursday called the nation to get behind a comprehensive immigration reform, while nudging Congressional Republicans to cooperate.
In a speech delivered to evangelical, business and labor leaders, Obama noted with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona and the heated reactions all across America, immigration has become "a source of fresh contention" in the country.
He praised immigrants for their contribution to the United States, but demanded "responsibility" from the 11 million plus illegal immigrants, saying they must "admit that they broke the law."
"They must get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship," said Obama.
Meanwhile, he also said reform needs to be carried out to fix the "broken and dangerous" system, and he's ready to move forward, as are the majority of Democrats.
Obama called on Congressional Republicans to move forward as well, as "without bipartisan support... we cannot solve this problem."
"Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality," he said.
Immigration is a dividing issue in the United States, and commentators are unsure if the reform can gather enough steam to go through in this election year.