Obama said it was up to the GOP "whether this becomes a reality or not."
Speaking briefly at the White House, the president urged them to pass a bill matching the one passed in June by the Senate, which he said was not perfect by was “fair and just” and met “core challenges.”
“This is the moment when we should be able to finally get the job done,” Obama said, before adding that “good policy is good politics in this instance.”
Even some White House allies, however, say it's unlikely that immigration reform will pass anytime soon.
House Republicans have yet to bring any immigration bill up for a vote, although committees have passed five individual bills.
Asked about immigration reform on Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated his interest in the issue but did not make an explicit commitment to call up legislation.
“I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed, and I’m hopeful,” he told reporters.
Boehner has said that any bill must earn support from a majority of Republicans to get a vote, and it is unclear if House leaders would bring any bills to the floor in the few weeks the House is scheduled to be in session this year.
Republicans on Thursday accused Obama of trying to change the subject from the failure of the HealthCare.gov website.
As Obama spoke, Republicans held hearings on the website's failure on Capitol Hill.
“There is a reason the president is giving a speech on immigration this morning, and it has nothing to do with immigration reform,” said Kirsten Kukowski, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee. “With ObamaCare hearings on the Hill beginning today, the president knows he is in store for more bad headlines as Democrats join Republicans in calling for delays to his signature healthcare law.”
In the speech, Obama tried to telegraph that even Republicans, such as former President George W. Bush, support immigration reform. He said GOP evangelicals and “even the Speaker” support reform.
“Let's not wait,” he said. “It doesn't get easier to put this off.”