"I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows," Obama said.
"I know that debate will be difficult and take time.
But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation," he said in his State of the Union Address.
Obama said today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in US schools who are not American citizens.
"Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents," he said.
"They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation.
Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense," Obama said.