OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday pledged to bring his own party along to reform the nation's broken immigration system, pleading with Republicans to join in as the only realistic hope to solve a politically volatile problem.
Obama also offered fresh, stern criticism of a new Arizona law that allows police to question anyone about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect they are in the country illegally. The president said a comprehensive federal immigration effort is needed to prevent "bad laws" like Arizona's.
"I will bring the majority of Democrats to the table in getting this done," Obama said in response to a question at a town hall in south-central Iowa. "But I've got to have some help from the other side."
The president said he hoped to get a deal done "sometime soon" - a politically vague timetable in an election year with a shrinking window for legislative action.
Obama's comments came on the same day that Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano were critical of Arizona's new law on immigration - and Holder said the federal government may challenge it.