Obama to push immigration reform next week

WASHINGTON (AFP) - United States (US) President Barack Obama will travel to the state of Nevada on Tuesday to push for rapid immigration reform, one of his top priorities for the next four years, the White House said on Friday.

During the trip, his first since being sworn in for a second term, Obama will "redouble the efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year", a statement said.

Earlier on Friday, the president met with leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the matter and reiterated that it was "a top legislative priority".

"The president further noted that there is no excuse for stalling or delay," according to the White House.

In his inauguration address Monday on the steps of the US Capitol, Mr Obama pushed the case for an improved process to welcome new immigrants to the US.

"Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity."

Citing his attempt to pass reforms to shorten the route for undocumented migrants to gain US residency, he called for "young students and engineers" to be "enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country".

Reforming America's aging immigration system is the only issue that has generated some degree of political consensus since November elections.

Hispanics voted massively for Mr Obama, flexing their growing political heft in several key states, and since then Republican leaders and well-known conservative commentators have jumped on the reform bandwagon.

However, a previous reform pushed by Mr Obama in 2010 failed in Congress due to Republican opposition.