By Sam Youngman - 04/19/11 09:27 PM EDT
Despite long odds against immigration reform, President Obama on Tuesday urged a wide range of activists and officials to keep pushing the issue.
The president told the group, which included Rev. Al Sharpton, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, that for Congress to act, they will have to put pressure on Capitol Hill.
Sharpton acknowledged that Obama was "very candid" about immigration reform's bleak hopes for passage.
But Bill Bratton, a former police chief of Los Angeles and New York City, said Obama asked the group of about 70 participants "to commit going forward to keep the debate about this issue alive."
Obama has come under fire repeatedly by Hispanic and pro-reform groups who have questioned his commitment on the issue.
As the president prepares to travel to Nevada on Wednesday, a state that highlights the growing importance of Hispanic voters, Obama sought to demonstrate that he still considers the issue a priority.
Eric Garcetti, president of the Los Angeles city council, said that Obama "made a very compelling case that he will not let this issue go."
Ahead of the meeting, the White House said in a release that Obama would talk to the group about "how we can work together to foster a constructive national conversation on this important issue as we work to build a bipartisan consensus in Congress."