By Dan Lothian, Jessica Yellin and Tom Cohen, CNN
Las Vegas (CNN) - President Barack Obama threw his full support behind a comprehensive overhaul of U.S. immigration laws on Tuesday, saying "now's the time" to replace a system he called "out of date and badly broken."
Speaking at a majority Hispanic high school in Las Vegas, Obama said "a broad consensus is emerging" behind the issue across the country, with signs of progress in Congress.
However, he acknowledged a fierce debate ahead on an issue he described as emotional and challenging, but vital to economic growth and ensuring equal opportunity for all.
"At this moment, it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. And that's very encouraging," Obama said, later adding: "This time, action must follow. We can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate."
The president spoke a day after eight senators - four from each party - introduced a framework for overhauling the immigration system that would provide an eventual path to citizenship for most of the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.
While touted as a breakthrough by its drafters, the plan was similar in many aspects to previous immigration reform efforts that have failed in recent years.
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