US President Barack Obama has called for a comprehensive immigration reform and listed this as among his top priorities now that the immediate crisis of the government shutdown and debt ceiling has ended.
The comprehensive immigration reform, which has been passed by the Senate and needs to be approved by the House of Representatives, before it is signed into law by Obama, grants path of citizenship to some 11 million undocumented people and accelerates the immigration process of the professionals from countries like India and China.
Listing immigration as his second top priority after jobs, Obama called for fixing the broken immigration system. "There's already a broad coalition across America that's behind this effort of comprehensive immigration reform, from business leaders to faith leaders to law enforcement," he said.
"In fact, the Senate has already passed a bill with strong bipartisan support that would make the biggest commitment to border security in our history, would modernise our legal immigration system, make sure everyone plays by the same rules, make sure that folks who came here illegally have to pay a fine, pay back taxes, meet their responsibilities," Obama said.
"That bill's already passed the Senate. And economists estimate that if that bill becomes law, our economy would be 5 per cent larger two decades from now. That's $1.4 trillion in new economic growth," said the president.
"The majority of Americans think this is the right thing to do. And it's sitting there waiting for the House to pass it. Now, if the House has ideas on how to improve the Senate bill, let's hear them. Let's start the negotiations. But let's not leave this problem to keep festering for another year or two years or three years. This can and should get done by the end of this year," he said in his address to the nation.
In addition to jobs, immigration reform, Obama identified passing the farm bill as his third top priority.
"Passing a budget, immigration reform, farm bill. Those are three specific things that would make a huge difference in our economy right now, and we could get them done by the end of the year - if our focus is on what's good for the American people. And that's just the big stuff," he said.
"There are all kinds of other things that we could be doing that don't get as much attention," he said.
Noting that differences between Republicans and the Democrats are natural in a democratic system, Obama urged the lawmakers to work towards reaching agreements on key issues.
"I will look for willing partners wherever I can to get important work done. And there's no good reason why we can't govern responsibly, despite our differences, without lurching from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis," he said. "In fact, one of the things that I hope all of us have learned these past few weeks is that it turns out smart, effective government is important. It matters. I think the American people, during the shutdown, had a chance to get some idea of all the things large and small that government does that make a difference in people's lives."