By Justin Sink
President Obama used a Cinco de Mayo celebration Monday at the White House to call on Republicans in Congress to press forward with comprehensive immigration reform.
The president said he was "convinced that America's prosperity and security" depended on passing an immigration bill, and accused House Republicans of refusing "to allow meaningful immigration reform to move forward at all."
"Say yes to fixing our broken immigration system," he added. "Let's get it done right now."
Obama also called on the assembled Hispanic leaders and activists to mobilize over the next two months to increase pressure on lawmakers.
Democrats are hopeful that the GOP may be more willing to advance immigration reform legislation after the Republican primary season, when many incumbent lawmakers are facing Tea Party challenges from the right.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called the legislation a priority and last month made headlines when he mocked conservative members of his caucus who have opposed reform. Boehner also raised eyebrows when he told a closed-door meeting with donors he was "hellbent" on advancing legislation.
But last week, Boehner insisted he was only teasing his colleagues and there was no plan to move forward on a comprehensive immigration deal. Boehner told reporters that members of his caucus were wary of Obama, skeptical of his enforcement of border security and accountability provisions of the bill.
But the White House has looked to ratchet up the pressure on the House GOP. Earlier Monday, Vice President Biden urged Boehner to "stand up" and move ahead with a reform bill.
"It's time for him to stand up, stand up and not let the minority — I think it’s a minority — of the Republican Party in the House keep us from moving in a way that will change the circumstances for millions and millions of lives,” Biden said.
And last Friday, Obama met with Asian American and Pacific Islander business and faith leaders to rally support for immigration reform.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) also used Cinco de Mayo as an opportunity to call for reform.
"There is no better way to acknowledge the important contributions to our country of America’s Latino community than by enacting comprehensive immigration reform," Pelosi said in a statement. "Whether on Cinco de Mayo or on any other day, the time is now for comprehensive immigration reform that honors the values of our country, strengthens our economy, and provides an earned pathway to citizenship."