Obama 'hopeful' to sign immigration bill this year

The White House is "hopeful" it can get a comprehensive immigration reform bill through Congress this year, after saying last Friday that the votes aren't yet there.

"We'd be hopeful of that," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at his daily briefing Thursday when asked if President Obama expected to be able to sign an immigration bill this year. "We'd like that."

Gibbs cautioned against setting a firm deadline, though: "I forgot my crystal ball, so I can't predict what inning the game will end in."

Gibbs told reporters last Friday "the votes aren't there right now" to achieve comprehensive reform that would give illegal residents of the U.S. a path to citizenship.

The president also prefers a comprehensive, all-at-once bill to a reform package done in pieces, Gibbs indicated.

"I think the president's approach would be to do something that's comprehensive," Gibbs said, dispelling "the idea or the notion that we can deal with this larger problem by simply dealing with one aspect."

The president welcomed a cross-section of lawmakers to the White House this afternoon for a forum on immigration reform.