The comments signaled White House hope that immigration
reform, a top priority for the second-term president, still
could be passed this year.
Obama has been pushing to revise U.S. immigration laws and
create a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented
residents, but a bill that passed the Democratic-controlled
Senate has been stalled in the Republican-controlled House.
"We've got this narrow window. The closer we get to the midterm
elections, the harder it is to get things done around here,"
Obama told a meeting of law enforcement leaders. "We've got
maybe a window ... of two, three months to get the ball rolling
in the House of Representatives."
As he has done before, Obama said he was willing to compromise
on aspects of the bill, but he noted that "some pathway to
citizenship" would be needed.
"We're not hell bent on making sure that every letter of what's
in the Senate bill is exactly what ultimately lands on my desk
for signature," he said.
House Republicans have said they are reticent about working with
Obama on a compromise because of concerns that he will not
enforce the law.
"We have a broken immigration system, but it is impossible to
make progress until the American people - and their elected
representatives - have faith that the president himself will
actually enforce the law as written," said Michael Steel, a
spokesman for Republican House Speaker John Boehner.
Obama said he believed Boehner wanted to get a law passed.
"To their credit, I think Speaker Boehner and some of the other
leaders there do believe that immigration reform's the right
thing, but they've got to have a political space that allows
them to get ahead and get it through their caucus and get it
done," he said.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason)
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