President Obama said at an event in the Rose Garden Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Cinco de Mayo that he wants to begin work on comprehensive immigration reform legislation this year.
The president acknowledged that the U.S. immigration system is broken and said Americans are right to be frustrated, including those in Border States.
"But the answer isn't to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation," he said, taking an apparent shot at the controversial immigration bill signed into law in Arizona, which critics say will result in racial profiling. "We can't start singling out people because of who they look like or how they talk or how they dress."
Added the president: "We can't turn law-abiding American citizens or law abiding immigrants into subjects of suspicion and abuse."
Mr. Obama again said he's instructed his administration to closely monitor the Arizona law.
"That's why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington," he said.
"Comprehensive reform is how we're gonna solve this problem," the president added. "Of course it's gonna be tough. That's the truth. Anybody who tells you it's gonna be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn't been paying attention to how this town works. We need bipartisan support. But it can be done. And it needs to be done."
Obama also took note of the NBA protest of the Arizona immigration law.
"I know that a lot of you would rather be watching tonight's game: The Spurs against Los Suns from Phoenix," he said.
Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent. You can read more of his posts in Hotsheet here. You can also follow him on Twitter here: http://twitter.com/markknoller.