President Barack Obama is indicating he could be open to immigration legislation that does not include a special pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people already in the U.S. illegally.
In an interview with CNN, Obama reiterated his preference for including a route to citizenship in a comprehensive bill. But he says he doesn't want to prejudge legislation where people get legal status and then go into the regular citizenship process.
"I'm not going to prejudge what gets to my desk," Obama told CNN host Jake Tapper. "I think the principle that we don't want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me, and not just Democrats."
The president emphasized a series of provisions in existing Senate legislation aimed at advancing serious immigration reform.
"And keep in mind that the Senate bill and the legislation that I've supported already calls for a very long process of earning citizenship," Obama explained. "You had to pay fines. You had to learn English. You had to pay back taxes. And you had to go to the back of the line. And at the end of that, you could get citizenship."
Obama said he would also have to consult immigration advocacy groups and "ordinary folks" to see what they would want in final legislation.
House Republicans released immigration principles Thursday that include legalization, but not a special pathway to citizenship. Obama said he is encouraged that some Republicans appear to want to address immigration issues.