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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden called for quick passage of the immigration reform measure before Congress.

He told a Las Vegas audience Thursday night that the country was in for the “fight of its life” and that the future of America could be decided between now and the Fourth of July, when Congress goes into recess.

The Democrat told a predominantly Latino crowd of 1,100 gathered for the national conference for the League of United Latin American Citizens that now is the time for a “fair, and firm and unfettered path for 11 million people” to become U.S. citizens.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Biden stressed in his 25-minute speech that the measure isn’t just about Hispanics.

“We’re talking about Asians and Irish and Africans and immigrants from all over the world,” he said.

His comments come as federal lawmakers attempt to compromise on an immigration reform bill by the end of the month. The Senate has reached a tentative agreement to beef up border security.

Biden argued that there would be economic benefits resulting from the reform, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

“The question you should ask is, ‘What will immigration reform do for America?'” said Biden at Caesars Palace. “The answer is clear and resounding: It can and will do great things for America.”

Biden said history has shown that with every wave of immigration, there is always an opposing force, even though the country was founded on the hard work of immigrants.

Biden cited statistics showing that 25 percent of the country’s students are Hispanic and that 11 percent of those serving in the armed forces are Hispanic.

“Think of that,” he said. “And we’re having an argument about immigration reform?”

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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