"We have done almost everything that Republicans asked to be done several years ago as a condition to move ahead with comprehensive immigration reform," he said. "It's not as if we haven't been attentive to border security and we will continue to be attentive to border security."
Obama also reiterated that his path to citizenship would be earned, meaning that undocumented immigrants would have to pass a background check, pay fines and back taxes, learn English and go to the back of the line.
"That pathway will take some time. Even under our proposal, this is not a situation where overnight people are suddenly going to find themselves a citizen," he said.
Obama also suggested that he wouldn't accede to a demand from immigrant-rights groups that a moratorium be placed on deportations of undocumented immigrants who otherwise do not have criminal records, saying it would amount to executive overreach.
"I'm not a king," he said.
But he said that passing comprehensive reform would allow him to address the record levels of deportations, which have been a grave concern to many in the Latino community.
"There are still going to be stories that are heartbreaking with respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform," he said. "That's one of the reasons I think it's so important for us to go ahead and get this action done."