WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says now is the time for immigration reform in the U.S.

The president spoke from the White House Thursday, pressuring Congress to pass legislation by the end of the year that will overhaul the nation's immigration system.

"It's not smart to invite some of the brightest minds from around the world to study here and they can't start businesses here," he said. "We send them back home to create new products elsewhere."

House Speaker John Boehner says he's optimistic that the House could act on immigration by the president's deadline, but it's unknown if Republicans will support his comprehensive approach.