"The speaker is sincere in wanting to get something done, and we're pleased the president said he can accept the step-by-step approach we're taking in the House," Brandan Buck, a spokesman for the Ohio Republican, told The Washington Post after Obama used the word sincere to characterize Boehner's desire.
"I believe the speaker is sincere. I think he genuinely wants to get it done," Obama told an audience at a San Francisco community center. "And that's something we should be thankful for this week."
Boehner said Thursday immigration reform was "absolutely not" a dead issue but offered no timetable for when he might schedule a vote on legislation.
"I'm hopeful we can make progress on this very important issue," Boehner said at his weekly news conference on Capitol Hill.
Obama said a week ago he would accept a piecemeal approach to overhauling the U.S. immigration system, provided the divided Congress passes all the pieces.
He repeated that promise Monday as he renewed his call for Congress to pass immigration legislation, saying the issue was crucial to boosting the U.S. economy.
But during his remarks to supporters and invited guests, Obama was interrupted by a protester in the stands behind him who called for the president to take immediate executive action to halt deportations.
"Mr. Obama, my family has been separated for 19 months now!" the young man yelled from a riser behind the president at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center.
As Obama continued to speak, the man said, "You have a power to stop deportation for all undocumented immigrants in this country."
The president turned to address him. "Actually, I don't," he said. "And that's why we're here."
Deportations have become a central issue for immigrant-rights groups. Nearly 12 million immigrants live in the United States illegally, and the Obama administration has been deporting yearly about 400,000 immigrants living in the country without legal permission, more than during the Bush administration's rate.
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