President Obama says he believes the House of Representatives will pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million undocumented immigrants.
"What I’ll be watching for is do those four things that I mentioned: A pathway to citizenship, making sure that we’re fixing the legal immigration system, dealing with borders and dealing with employers," Obama told Univision in an interview that aired Friday. "If those components are there then I would expect that not only will I be supportive, but also I think we can get it through the House. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the smart thing to do."
Earlier Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who helped write the "Gang of Eight" immigration bill, told radio host Sean Hannity that the Senate legislation, in its current form, could not pass the House.
"Clearly what we have in there now is not good enough for too many people, and so we've got to make it better. And that's what I'm asking for and that's what we're working on," Rubio said.
The Florida lawmaker said he feared triggers in the bill that tie the pathway to citizenship to border security goals were too weak.
"This bill will not pass the House and, quite frankly, I think, may struggle to pass the Senate if it doesn't deal with that issue, so we've got some work to do on that front," Rubio said.
Visiting Mexico, President Obama said he was working with officials there "to make sure that we are building infrastructure and the systems that allow for a well regulated border."
"But we also have to think about borders as this enormous opportunity," Obama said. "Because with all this flow of goods and services we want to make sure that it’s safe, while making sure that everything that’s happening on the border is legal. But we also want to make sure that it’s efficient and smooth so that, you know, whether it’s people or services or goods coming into the United States and going into Mexico."
He also said the Senate bill was a "good piece of work" that required compromises on both sides.
"There were details in it that I didn’t like. There were details in it that I liked," Obama said.
In a speech earlier in the day in Mexico, Obama said he was "absolutely convinced" legislators would iron out their differences by the end of 2013.
Obama also reiterated that he saw a pathway to citizenship as essential to the final bill, providing a single word answer when asked if he would accept an immigration bill that did not include such a provision.
"No," Obama said.