(CNSNews.com) - Speaking to a group of business leaders at the White House on Tuesday, President Barack Obama said he did not see any reason a "pathway to citizenship" for illegal aliens could not be enacted before the end of this year.
To make his point, he argued that there are "some very conservative folks" who "believe that now is the time to get this done."
Obama said that businesses "understand" the economic benefits of legalizing people who are currently breaking U.S. immigration law.
"These businesses understand that," he said. "They understand that if we are serious about border security, if we do a better job of streamlining the legal immigration system, if we are holding employers who aren’t doing the right thing accountable, and we provide a pathway to citizenship for those who have paid a fine, learned English, are getting to the back of the line, taking their responsibilities--that all together, these businesses are going to have more customers, we’re going to see people who are currently working here, out of the shadows, paying taxes and getting right with the law."
Obama further said that providing an amnesty to illegal aliens--n.b. a "pathway to citizenship"--would grow the U.S. economy above "the growth that's already taking place," and reduce the federal deficit.
"We know that the Senate bipartisan bill that already passed would grow the economy by $1.4 trillion above and beyond the growth that’s already taking place," said Obama. "We know it will reduce our deficit by $850 billion."
"So this is something that has strong bipartisan support," the president said. "Keep in mind that my predecessor, George W. Bush, was a strong supporter of this. We have a fascinating cross-section of people--some unlikely bedfellows, some very liberal folks, some very conservative folks--who all believe that now is the time to get this done."