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Obama invokes Thanksgiving spirit on immigration during West Coast fundraising tour

Published: Monday, Aug. 31 2015 1:57 p.m. MDT

President Barack Obama turns around to respond to hecklers interrupting his speech about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama's speech was dramatically interrupted by hecklers, located directly behind him, who urged him to halt deportations, of which his administration has conducted a record number. One young man shouted about his family being separated for Thanksgiving, and said Obama should use his executive power to stop this. President Barack Obama turns around to respond to hecklers interrupting his speech about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama's speech was dramatically interrupted by hecklers, located directly behind him, who urged him to halt deportations, of which his administration has conducted a record number. One young man shouted about his family being separated for Thanksgiving, and said Obama should use his executive power to stop this. "Stop deportations, yes we can," the man and other people chanted. The president stopped Secret Service agents who tried to remove the protesters. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press)

SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama invoked the Thanksgiving spirit Monday in search of an immigration deal with Congress, making a pitch for a legislative priority amid a West Coast fundraising swing.

The Democratic-controlled Senate has passed a comprehensive bill that includes border security and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the United States. Obama prefers that approach but says he's willing to go along with House Republicans who want to break immigration reform into pieces.

"It's Thanksgiving. We can carve that bill into multiple pieces," Obama said to laughter at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in the Chinatown neighborhood.

Obama said a quarter of the foreign-born population in the United States in 2011 came from Asian countries, and more than a million of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally are from Asia.

Later, Obama was interrupted by a heckler standing on the stage behind him who shouted at the president to stop deportations that split up families. Obama says he needs Congress to change the law to have that power. When security tried to remove the demonstrator from the event, Obama said he could stay and that they share the same goal.

President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Monday, Nov, 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. The president is invoking the Thanksgiving spirit in search of an immigration deal with Congress. The president says he's willing to go along with House Republicans who want to break immigration reform into pieces. That's a different approach than the Democratic-controlled Senate that passed a comprehensive bill including border security and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the US.  (Jeff Chiu, Associated Press) President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Monday, Nov, 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. The president is invoking the Thanksgiving spirit in search of an immigration deal with Congress. The president says he's willing to go along with House Republicans who want to break immigration reform into pieces. That's a different approach than the Democratic-controlled Senate that passed a comprehensive bill including border security and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the US. (Jeff Chiu, Associated Press)

"It won't be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying," Obama said.

Facing opposition from many rank-and-file Republicans, House GOP leaders don't plan to hold any votes on immigration during what remains of this year.

After an evening of fundraisers in Seattle Sunday, Obama was scheduled to appear at four fundraisers Monday in San Francisco and Los Angeles for the Democratic National Committee and for House and Senate Democrats.

One event will be held at the home of Earvin "Magic" Johnson, the former NBA star and now co-owner of baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers.

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