Obama: I might consider immigration reform that has no citizenship path

President  Obama works at his desk in the Oval Office on Jan. 27, 2014 AP

WASHINGTON  -- President 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 broadcast Friday, Mr. Obama reiterated his preference for including a route to citizenship in a comprehensive bill. But he says he doesn't want to prejudge legislation in which people get legal status and then go into the regular citizenship process. 

The president says he would also have to consult immigration advocacy groups 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. Mr. Obama says he is encouraged that some Republicans appear to want to address immigration issues.

The president also said he believes the Russian city of Sochi is safe and that Americans who want to go to the Winter Olympics should go.

Amid questions about whether Russian security is sufficient to head off the threat of militant attacks in Sochi, Mr. Obama said the Russians understand the stakes involved in playing host to the international event.

Asked what he would tell close friends who wanted to go to the Olympics, Mr. Obama said, "I'd tell them that I believe that Sochi is safe and that there are always some risks in these large international gatherings."

But he said he would always feel better if the event were being held inside the United States "because then, we have full control over what happens."

U.S. officials have expressed concerns about the level of cooperation with Russian security officials. Mr. Obama said the United States has a good sense of the security plan Russia has put in place to protect the athletes and spectators.

"The Russian authorities understand the stakes here. They understand that there are potential threats that are out there. And we are coordinating with them. We've looked at their plans," he said.

Mr. Obama said U.S. officials are not discouraging Americans from attending the Winter Games. Those who wish to go should check with the State Department and see what "prudent measures" they should take.

"What I would say is is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics," he said.

"In these large settings like this, there are always some risk involved," he added.

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