President Barack Obama said Tuesday that America “owes” it to certain illegal aliens to pass legislation providing a “pathway to citizenship.”

“We owe it to America to do better,” Obama said in the East Room of the White House. “We owe it to the Dreamers to do better.”

Obama then went on to cite several young people in the audience. Obama and supporters of the immigration reform legislation have called people who were taken into the United States illegally by their parents “dreamers.” Democrats previously supported the DREAM Act that would allow illegals who attend college or enlist in the military to get on the pathway to citizenship.

During the speech, Obama said the pathway in the proposal before the Senate is “arduous.”

“You’ve got to pass background checks,” Obama said. “You’ve got to learn English. You’ve got to pay taxes and a penalty, and then you’ve got to go to the back of the line behind everybody who’s done things the right way and have tried to come here legally. So this won’t be a quick process. It will take at least 13 years before the vast majority of these individuals are able to even apply for citizenship. So this is no cakewalk.”

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