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Obama says House can do immigration reform in stages

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By Reuters
Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 9:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON — President Obama said on Tuesday that he could support the House taking a piece-by-piece approach to changing immigration policy as long as key elements, such as a “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants, were included.

The White House had hoped a broad bill to reform immigration rules would be the president's signature achievement this year, but the effort has stalled in the House after passing with bipartisan support in the Senate.

In an interview with Noticias Telemundo, Obama said he could back efforts in the House to advance elements of immigration reform one at a time — rather than all at once as the Senate did — as long as all of his priorities were part of the outcome.

“I'm happy to let the House work its will as long as the bill that ends up on my desk speaks to the central issues that have to be resolved,” he said, citing his priorities of stronger border security, penalties for employers who take advantage of undocumented workers and a pathway to citizenship for immigrants in the country illegally.

“If those elements are contained in a bill, whether they come through the House a little bit at a time or they come in one fell swoop ... I'm less concerned about process. I'm more interested in making sure it gets done,” he said.

Advocates are reluctant to support a piece-by-piece approach out of concern that the elements most popular among Republicans, such as tougher border security, would be passed while the pathway to citizenship would not.

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