President Obama predicted the immigration debate would begin “very soon after my inauguration.”

“We need to seize the moment,” Obama said, referring to soul-searching in GOP after election results in which 71 percent of Hispanics voted for him.

Obama said he wants a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, and calls for action on the young people who would be eligible for legalization under the Dream Act.

“My expectation is we get a bill introduced and we begin the process in Congress very soon after my inauguration,” he said, adding that conversations had already begun between lawmakers and his staff.

Obama won the Latino vote by a wider margin in the 2012 election than he did in 2008, exit polls showed.

 

See a running transcript of Obama's news conference here and watch live video here