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Obama Delays Immigration Meeting; Members Await Invitations

Updated: 5:47 p.m.

President Barack Obama is postponing a key meeting with immigration reform stakeholders because of a scheduling conflict.

The meeting with top lawmakers and advocacy groups was originally set for June 8 but is now being rescheduled for June 17. A White House spokesman said the postponement is because of the president’s travel schedule.

Details of the meeting remain unclear, including who will be invited or what stakeholders expect to come from it.

“The president is inviting a small group of bipartisan Senate and House leaders on the immigration issue to the White House for a meeting to have an honest discussion of the issues, identify areas of agreement, and areas where we still have work to do,” said the White House aide.

Even leading proponents of immigration reform, such as Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairwoman Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), have yet to be formally invited to the meeting. A Velázquez aide said the only information the lawmaker has gotten about the meeting has come from the media.

An aide to another CHC member said the word is that Obama “wants this meeting to be small, so it’s unclear if he will only invite key stakeholders, like committee chairs or leadership.” Some lawmakers have concerns as to whether “all members of the CHC will even be invited,” said the aide. “I’m sure everybody wants to go.”

Obama has signaled support for discussions on comprehensive immigration reform this year but not for passing legislation. That sentiment was conveyed in the statement given by his spokesman Wednesday: “The meeting is intended to launch a policy conversation, with the hope of beginning the debate in earnest later this year.”

But that hasn’t stopped immigration reform groups from ramping up pressure on Obama to help pass legislation this year.

A coalition of 10 labor unions, business coalitions, civil rights and religious groups spent Wednesday launching a new campaign “to help President Obama make good on his promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform in 2009.”

The goal of the group, called Reform Immigration for America, is to demonstrate a commitment “to win the legislative battle expected later in the year,” according to coalition press materials. The group describes the White House meeting as the chance to “discuss plans to move legislation forward this year.”

Coalition members include the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the National Council of La Raza and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Both Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) touched on immigration reform during remarks at Wednesday’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Summit. But neither gave a time frame for legislative action.

“I know that comprehensive immigration reform is a priority for all of you. It is also a priority for President Obama. We all agree that we need immigration reform that will keep our country safe, reunite families, protect workers, meet our economic needs, and have a pathway to legalization,” Pelosi said.

Reid pledged to “again pursue comprehensive immigration reform” and said he is “committed to reforming our system in a way that is tough, fair and practical.”

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