President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged Congress to approve immigration reform that will allow a path to the legalization of undocumented migrants' status.
"We need to seize the moment," he said at his first press conference since winning reelection, thanks in part to 70 percent support among Hispanic voters.
Obama said that immigration reform must include strengthening border security, fines for companies that hire undocumented foreigners and the legalization of those who have no criminal records and fulfill other requirements.
The president said that he hopes to see an immigration reform bill introduced in Congress "very soon" after his second inauguration in January.
"This has not historically been a partisan issue," he said, noting that some Republicans like Sen. John McCain have expressed support for a comprehensive reform in the past.
Obama said he feels "incredibly motivated" by the high participation of Hispanics at the polls, something that gives a sense of the power this community is acquiring in U.S. society and something he described as "good for the country."
"I am very confident we can get immigration reform done," the president said.
He said his proposal will be "very similar" to earlier ones and he will emphasize the need to keep in place measures to protect the border and "serious penalties" for businessmen who knowingly hire undocumented immigrants with the aim of exploiting them.
"Young people who came here through no fault of their own, they should not be under the cloud of deportation," Obama said.
According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Wednesday, 57 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. EFE