"There's not by any means consensus around the table," Obama said after the meeting at the White House. "After all the demagoguery, we've got a responsible set of leaders who want to get things done."
He singled out Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who bucked the sentiment of GOP leaders at a "significant political cost for doing the right thing."
Former President George W. Bush attempted a reform that would have combined increased border security with a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements. He was stymied by congressional Republicans.
Obama said he was committed to immigration reform, telling the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast last week he favored provisions that people already in the United States illegally must pay penalties and taxes, learn English "and to go the back of the line those who followed the rules."
Because Congress's plate includes measures reforming the U.S. healthcare and financial regulatory system systems, as well as energy legislation and the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, observers told media outlets they don't expect action on immigration reform this year.
Obama Thursday also announced the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has gone line-less for people wanting to check the status of their applications for things such as citizenship or green cards. Within 30 days, Obama said, applicants can check the status of their paperwork online, by text message or by e-mail instead of waiting in line.