President Barack Obama on Monday asked the U.S. Senate to approve immigration reform by a big margin to spur the House of Representatives to do likewise.

"I would urge the Senate to bring this to the floor, and I hope that we can get the strongest possible vote out of the Senate so that we can then move to the House and get this done before the summer break," he told business leaders prior to the start of an immigration reform roundtable at the White House.

"And if we get this done - when we get this done - I think every business leader here feels confident that they'll be in a stronger position to continue to innovate, to continue to invest, to continue to create jobs, and ensure that this continues to be the land of opportunity for generations to come," Obama said.

"Now is the time to get this done," the president said, again prodding lawmakers to approve a law allowing the legalization of - and eventual receipt of citizenship by - the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

The president said that business leaders acknowledge that immigration reform contributes to economic growth and the creation of jobs and that the current immigration system puts businesses that follow the rules at a disadvantage compared to those who hire undocumented workers.

In subsequent remarks to reporters, several of the businessmen at Monday's meeting echoed Obama's words and expressed optimism that Congress will approve immigration reform.

Some observers say that prospects would improve for getting a bill through the Republican-controlled House if a reform measure comes out of the Senate with at least 70 votes. EFE