By Arun Kumar
Washington, May 6 (IANS) President Barack Obama has repeated his call for "common sense comprehensive immigration reform" to begin this year with the support of his own Democratic and rival Republican parties.
"I want to begin work this year," said Obama, speaking in the Rose Garden Wednesday. "And I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me."
Calling for a sweeping fix to the "broken" system, he said: "That means responsibility from our government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do."
"It means responsibility from businesses who break the law by undermining American workers, exploiting undocumented workers. They've got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from those live here illegally.
"They've got to admit they broke the law, pay their taxes, pay a penalty, learn English, get right before the law. And then get in line and earn their citizenship."
The President lashed out against Arizona's tough new immigration law, which gives state police officers the authority to request documentation proving citizenship of anyone they suspect of being illegal.
He criticised the state for "singling out people because of what they look like or how they talk or how they dress."
"We can't turn law abiding American citizens and law abiding immigrants into subjects of suspicion and abuse," said Obama, noting that his administration is monitoring the Arizona law. "We can't divide the American people that way. That's not the answer."
The president warned the gathered crowd that reform wouldn't be easy. "It's going to be tough," he said. "That's the truth. Anyone who tells you its going to be easy and I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn't been paying attention to how this town works."
But it can't be done without reaching across the aisle, Obama said, adding that he was pleased to see a comprehensive proposal in the Senate last week that was based on a bipartisan framework.
Without congressional action, White House officials warn, other states will follow and create a patchwork of immigration rules across the nation.
Rallies protesting the law and calling for federal immigration reform have spread around the country, and activists have called for a boycott of Arizona businesses.