U.S. President Barack Obama said Republicans can't survive politically unless they pass immigration reform. The nation's changing demographics and the growing importance of the Latino vote mean that GOP lawmakers must embrace more progressive immigration laws to stay in office, Obama said. 

“It's anybody's guess how Republicans are thinking about this,” Obama said Thursday during a town hall meeting in Los Angeles. “If they were thinking long-term politically, it is suicide for them not to do this.”

Obama said immigration reform will pass Congress before he leaves office in 2017, according to The Hill. “Congress will see the light because the logic of it is too compelling,” Obama said. "I'm going to keep fighting on this.”

Obama and GOP lawmakers have been locked in a battle over immigration reform since he first took office in 2009. More recently, Republicans and Democratic lawmakers tried to draft a bill that would appease both parties in 2012, but the effort gained little traction. Obama said, “the Tea Party and others who often express virulent” opposition to immigration reform have made it difficult for Republican lawmakers to move forward. 

Obama has said he will hold off on any immigration policy changes until after the November midterm elections to avoid hurting vulnerable Democratic lawmakers who are fighting to keep control of the Senate. “Because of the Republicans’ extreme politicization of this issue, the president believes it would be harmful to the policy itself and to the long-term prospects for comprehensive immigration reform to announce administrative action before the elections,” a White House official said. “Because he wants to do this in a way that’s sustainable, the president will take action on immigration before the end of the year.”

Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of immigration more than any other issue, according to the most recent Economist/YouGov poll. The poll conducted last week shows 53 percent of Americans either strongly disapprove or somewhat disapprove of Obama's handling of immigration.