Obama Blames Politics for Immigration Reform Delay

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President Barack Obama on Thursday blamed immigration policy delays on "political posturing and special interest wrangling" as he tried to jump start the issue in Congress and in the court of American public opinion.

Speaking at American University in Washington, D.C., Obama pointed his finger at Republicans for the delay.  He did not mention anyone in particular, but told the audience that  lawmakers had fallen to the "pressures of partisanship and election-year politics."

In his speech, the president presented his comprehensive plan for fixing what he and both Democrats and Republicans have called a broken system.

The president said the government should be held accountable for its responsibility to secure the border.

He said the problem cannot be solved with "only with fences and border patrols."

Obama also said American companies should face penalites for knowingly employing illegal immigrants.  He also explained that people who enter the U.S. illegally should own up to their actions before they can begin the process of becoming citizens.

"The question now is whether we will have the courage and the political will to pass a bill through Congress, to finally get it done," the president said. "I'm ready to move forward, the majority of Democrats are ready to move forward and I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward. But the fact is that without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem."

"Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes," he said. "That is the political and mathematical reality."

According to Obama, such a solution would mean "accountability for everybody" - from the government meeting its obligation to protect the nation's the borders, to businesses being held accountable for knowingly employing illegal immigrants, to those who enter the country illegally owning up to their actions before they can begin the process of becoming citizens.

The president's move toward dealing with U.S. immigration comes amid recent controversy over law recently passed by Arizona targeting illegal immigrants.

"I understand the frustrations of the people of Arizona and a lot of folks along the border that that border has not been entirely secured in a way that is both true to our traditions as a nation of law and as a nation of immigrants," Obama said at a news conference in May.

"He thought this was a good time to talk plainly with the American people about his views on immigration," White House spokesman Bill Burton said.

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