I'm not a particularly ideological person. ... I'm pretty pragmatic about how we get there. —President Barack Obama
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.
"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.