WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama pledged to put "everything" behind immigration reform in an interview with Spanish-language broadcaster Telemundo on Wednesday.
Speaking to José Díaz-Balart, Obama laid out his time frame for fixing the nation's immigration system a day after he embraced a comprehensive reform agreement reached by a bipartisan group of senators over the weekend.
"I'm hopeful that this can get done, and I don't think that it should take many, many months," Obama said. "I think this is something we should be able to get done certainly this year and I'd like to see if we could get it done sooner, in the first half of the year if possible."
"The issue here is not so much technical as it's political," he said. "It's a matter of Republicans and Democrats coming together and finding a meeting of the minds and then making the case."
But Obama said no matter how difficult it may be, he will put the full weight of his office into realizing immigration reform.
"I can guarantee that I will put everything I've got behind it," he said. "We're putting our shoulder to the wheel. I'll be talking about it. We've now got a majority of Americans who are supportive of comprehensive immigration reform. And, you know, I will do everything I can to make sure that we align public opinion with — Congressional votes so that I can actually get a bill on that — on that desk to sign."
Obama also restated his belief in the need for a comprehensive plan to address gun violence, saying there needs to be "a unified, integrated system" to keep guns out of the hands of those who would do harm.
"I mean what is absolutely true is that if you are just creating a bunch of pockets of gun laws without having sort of a unified, integrated system — for example, of background checks, then it's going to be a lot harder for an individual community, a single community, to protect itself from this kind of gun violence," he said. "That's precisely why we think it's important for Congress to act."
Asked whether Chicago's epidemic of gun violence despite having some of the toughest gun laws in the nation proves the National Rifle Association's point that gun control doesn't deter violence, Obama objected.
"Well, the problem is is that — a huge proportion of those guns come in
from outside Chicago," he said.
Obama also sat down with Univision anchor María Elena Salinas Wednesday to discuss his immigration proposals.