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Obama stresses commitment to immigration reform in El Salvador

US President Barack Obama stressed Tuesday in El Salvador his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, in the last leg of a Latin American tour that previously took him to Brazil and Chile.

‘Our job is to create secure borders, to make sure that we’ve got a legal immigration system that is effective and is not frustrating for families, doesn’t divide families,’ Obama told a press conference in San Salvador. ‘But we also have to make sure that those who are in the United States illegally at this point, but in some cases have been there for a long time, … have a pathway to get right by the law.’

He stressed that pushing through such a measure would not be easy.

‘Several years ago we were able to craft a bipartisan consensus, at least in the United States Senate, around this issue,’ Obama said.

‘Over the last two years, it’s been more difficult to gain Republican support for some of these efforts. And my hope is, is that they begin to recognize over the next year that we can’t solve this problem without taking a broad, comprehensive approach.’

There are currently some 2 million Salvadorans living in the United States, compared to about 6 million in the Central American country itself.

Obama and Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes announced increased cooperation between the two countries on issues including development and on the fight against drug gangs.

‘I thought President Funes gave a very eloquent response to one of my questions during our bilateral meeting. He said, ‘I don’t want a young man in El Salvador or a young woman in El Salvador to feel that the only two paths to moving up the income ladder is either to travel north or to join a criminal enterprise,” Obama said.

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