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Despite 'Dysfunction,' Obama Optimistic on Immigration

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama believes that Congress will pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill despite a lack of bipartisan cooperation on other key issues.

"I feel confident that the bipartisan work that has been done on immigration reform will result in a bill that passes the Senate, passes the House and gets on my desk," he said during a news conference Tuesday at the White House. "And that's going to be a historic achievement."

On other key issues in Obama's second term, such as tax reform, deficit reduction, and the sequestration spending cuts, a lack of bipartisan agreement has impeded the president from achieving these goals. He laid blame for that at the feet of Republicans in Congress.

"You seem to suggest that somehow these folks over there have no responsibilities, and that my job is to get them to behave," Obama said. "That's their job."

But a drastic overhaul of the nation's immigration laws that offers a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants has proven to be an exception for today's divided Congress. The effort has received support from Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the aisle in both chambers.

Obama has been wary of inserting himself into the policymaking process on immigration, perhaps an acknowledgement that his involvement could turn off Republicans who are helping guide the bill through Congress.

Even though the president remarked that the Senate's proposal is "not the bill I would have written," he said it meets his general principles for reform; namely a clear pathway to citizenship, heightened border security, and streamlining the legal immigration system.

And he declined to weigh in on the details of the negotiations of a bipartisan group in the House, which has not yet released its own immigration bill.

"I haven't seen what members of the House are yet proposing. Maybe they think they could answer some of those questions differently," he said. "I think we have to be open minded in seeing what they come up with."

But Obama did say that the House plan, which will reportedly be a more conservative product than the Senate's, must still meet his general criteria. That includes a pathway to citizenship.

"If it doesn't meet those criteria, I will not support such a bill," he said.

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