WASHINGTON, March 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday praised Democratic effort and urged Republicans in Congress to speed up legislation on a comprehensive immigration reform that would provide a pathway to earned citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country.
In a statement issued by the White House, Obama "applauded" efforts of Democrats in the House of Representatives to give immigration reform the yes-or-no vote it deserves.
"Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security, and our future," Obama said. "A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country."
"Last year, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together to pass a commonsense bill to fix our broken immigration system, a bill that would grow economy, shrink deficits and reward businesses that play by the rules," the president said.
"But so far, Republicans in the House have refused to allow meaningful immigration reform to even come up for a vote," he said.
Obama's statement was released the same day that House Democrats deployed a legislative move to force a vote on the bipartisan immigration bill, an effort designed to increase the election-year pressure on Republicans.
The discharge petition that requires the signature of 218 for a legislative action has little chance of clearing the Republican- controlled House as Democrats hold 199 seats in the House and would need support of dozens of Republicans.
The immigration overhaul bill sailed through the Senate last June, but has stalled in the House where Republicans have called for changes to the bill, including further strengthening border security measures.