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Obama urges strong Senate vote on immigration bill

Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (C) listens to U.S. President Barack Obama as he meets business leaders to discuss the need for commonsense i
Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett (C) listens to U.S. President Barack Obama as he meets business leaders to discuss the need for commonsense i

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Monday he hoped the Senate will pass a landmark immigration reform bill with "the strongest possible vote" and urged Congress to advance legislation before a planned summer break.

Obama and his top aides met with eight chief executives and business owners ahead of a key procedural vote set for later on Monday in the Democratic-led Senate.

"I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break," Obama told reporters.

While the bill is expected to pass the Senate later this week, it faces a tougher path in the Republican-led House of Representatives.

The business leaders, representing businesses from the technology, agriculture, food and manufacturing sectors, plan to meet lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week, Obama said.

Obama said the bipartisan bill adheres to core principles he sought for reforms, including a pathway to citizenship for up to 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States, tougher border security and improvements for the bureaucratic immigration system.

"It's not a bill that represents everything that I would like to see: it represents a compromise," Obama said.

The bill is expected to include an amendment that would double the number of federal agents on the U.S.-Mexican border to about 40,000 and provide more high-tech surveillance equipment, including drones and other aircraft.

More than a dozen religious groups urged senators on Monday to reject that measure, saying it was a poor use of resources and would lead to more deaths at the border.

So-called DREAMers, the young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents, echoed their concerns that it would further militarize the border.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Rachelle Younglai; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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