SAN FRANCISCO - President Barack Obama pressed House Republicans to make changes to the nation's immigration laws Monday, seeking to refocus attention away from a federal healthcare overhaul whose bungled rollout has damaged him politically.
"It's long past time to fix our broken immigration system," Obama said to applause at the Betty Ong Recreation Center in San Francisco.
Obama's speech was interrupted by the shouting of a man on the riser behind him who called for Obama, by administrative action, to "stop deportation now." Obama engaged in an exchange with the man, saying America is a "nation of laws."
Obama arrived in California with his public approval rating at a record low, standing to benefit from any shift in attention away from thel healthcare overhaul. In addition to his remarks on immigration, Obama is expected to address the economy at an event Tuesday in Southern California.
The two policy speeches were folded into a West Coast fundraising swing ahead of next year's midterm elections, with fundraisers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles for the Democratic National Committee, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
The prospect of significant federal action on immigration is in doubt. The U.S. Senate approved legislation earlier this year that would pay for increased border security and create a guest-worker program and a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. But the measure is stalled in the House, with many Republicans resistant.
Obama briefly mentioned healthcare, saying "states like California are proving the law works." Nearly 80,000 customers enrolled in the state exchange from its launch Oct. 1 through Nov. 19..
PHOTO: President Barack Obama departs Seattle under foggy skies on Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, heading for San Francisco. Associated Press/Elaine Thompson