Washington: Making a push for immigration reforms, a key priority of his second term agenda, President Barack Obama has said a bill without a path to citizenship for illegal residents "does not make sense."
"It does not make sense to me, if we're gonna make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved," Obama said in an interview with the Spanish-language network Telemundo's Denver, Colorado, affiliate.
Such a plan, he said, would run counter to American values. "It's not who we are as Americans," Obama said, according to a transcript of the interview. "That's never been our tradition."
While about 60 percent of the illegal residents are from neighbouring Mexico, they include some 260,000 Indians, many of them students and others who have overstayed their visas.
The president conducted interviews with four Spanish-language television stations in Denver, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York/New Jersey Tuesday as part of the White House's push for immigration.
While a comprehensive plan passed in the Senate in June, it has yet to be considered in the House, where leaders have advocated a piecemeal approach to reform of late.
But Obama warned against tackling the effort in stages, where there could be a "tendency I think to put off the hard stuff until the end."
"If you've eaten your dessert before you've eaten your meal, at least with my children, sometimes they don't end up eating their vegetables," Obama told a Telemundo-owned station in Dallas, according to the transcript. "We need to, I think, do this as a complete package."
Although the president acknowledged a bill is unlikely to pass before the August Congressional recess, he said he's hopeful a bill will pass by the fall.
Obama said he believes the Senate-passed bill would clear the House if brought to the floor now, but put the onus on House Republicans who he said "still have to process this issue and discuss it further."
House Speaker John Boehner has said he will not allow a vote on the bill unless it is backed by the majority of the Republican conference. The president asked Republicans to show "leadership."
"If we can see some leadership from members of the Republican Party, some of whom I disagree with on a lot of issues, but you know who do seem to recognize this is the right thing to do for the country . eventually we'll get something passed out of the House," Obama said.