President Obama joined forces with business executives to tout the benefits of overhauling the nation's immigration laws and pledged to work with chief executives from Fortune 500 companies to push the issue.
“There's no reason why we can't get this done before the end of the year,” Obama said after a Tuesday meeting with eight business executives at the White House.
“I continue to be hopeful that with the leadership of many who are around this table who represent hundreds of thousands of employees and billions of dollars of assets ... that ultimately folks up on Capitol Hill will do the right thing,” he added.
Business executives who participated in the meeting included Don Thompson, president and CEO of McDonald's; Greg Brown, chairman and CEO of Motorola Solutions; Joe Echevarria, CEO of Deloitte LLP; Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott; and Marillyn Hewson, CEO and president of Lockheed Martin.
Obama acknowledged the strange-bedfellow coalition pushing for an immigration bill, noting that former President George W. Bush backed a comprehensive bill, along with a cross-section of Democrats and Republicans.
“He said it's not only the right thing to do,” Obama said, citing Bush's support, but that it's also "critical to the economy."
The bipartisan immigration bill passed by the Senate would help the economy grow by $1.4 trillion, he said, and would help reduce the deficit by $850 billion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.
House Republicans have been pursuing a step-by-step approach, emphasizing border security.
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said there are no House GOP plans to roll piecemeal reforms to the nation's immigration laws into one large bill despite the president's calls for Congress to pass a comprehensive bill by the end of the year.