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'Immigration Reform' Must Move Soon in House, Obama Says

Obama says immigration reform has a narrow window this year for passing in the House. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

President Barack Obama said Tuesday there are only two or three months left for the House to act on an immigration overhaul, accusing a just a handful of Republicans of "blocking immigration reform."  

"There's a very narrow window," the president said, according to a pool report. "The closer we get to midterm elections the harder it will be to get things done. ...We have about 2-3 months to get the ball rolling in the House of Representatives."  

Obama said "a number of Republicans are realizing that blocking immigration reform is not a good idea."  

"Public opinion is on our side," he said.  "A handful of House Republicans are blocking legislation getting to the floor."

Obama said about 80 percent of the unauthorized immigrants had been in the United States for more than a decade and are "woven into the fabric of our society."  

Obama, who was speaking to a group of law enforcement officials, said that the current law was stopping police from "chasing gangbangers and going after violent criminals."  

Obama told the officials that their "unexpected" voices could help pass an immigration bill in the House.  

Obama added — as he has before — that he's not wedded to every section in the Senate bill.  

The president's comments came a day after Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said most Republicans wanted to pass something on immigration . Boehner, speaking in San Antonio, again noted his preference for smaller bills than the Senate's comprehensive bill. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., told CQ Roll Call last week that he sees August as the deadline.  

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Tuesday that the House has the votes for a bill similar to the Senate bill and urged the House to act.  

Boehner, however, has pinned blame on Obama for the reluctance of his members to vote on immigration.  

“We have a broken immigration system, but it is impossible to make progress until the American people – and their elected representatives – have faith that the President himself will actually enforce the law as written," said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel in a emailed statement Tuesday.