President Obama pressed Congress to “get immigration reform done this year” in his State of the Union address, saying it was essential to growing the nation's economy.

“If we are serious about economic growth, it is time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, and law enforcement – and fix our broken immigration system,” the president said.

“Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have acted,” Obama added. “I know that members of both parties in the House want to do the same.”

A bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill passed the Senate last summer and included measures to tighten border security, expand visa programs and offer a pathway to citizenship for the nation’s illegal immigrants.

But the GOP-controlled House failed to take up that legislation amid opposition from conservative lawmakers who said offering citizenship to illegal immigrants already in the country amounted to “amnesty.”

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., has said he will only move immigration reform piecemeal. Obama said that he would accept a piecemeal path, provided that all the elements of the Senate’s bill are included in the end result.

Reports say House Republicans are preparing to unveil their own immigration package, but that while it would legalize the status of illegal immigrants already in the country it would not create a path to citizenship.

The White House has declined to say if Obama could accept such legislation, saying only that they are encouraged that Republicans want to move forward on immigration.

“What we should do here is let the Republicans put forward their plan,” said senior Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer on Sunday.

Obama on Tuesday cited the support of business groups who have pressed Washington to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

“Independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost $1 trillion in the next two decades,” he said..

“When people come here to fulfill their dreams – to study, invent, and contribute to our culture – they make our country a more attractive place for businesses to locate and create jobs for everyone,” said Obama.