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President Obama to urge Congress to pass immigration reform in speech

Immigration Rally Main.jpg

 (AP2013)

President Obama will deliver a speech Thursday urging Congress to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the White House said Wednesday night.

After the budget crisis ended last week, Obama called on Congress to pass an immigration reform bill saying it was one of his top priorities moving forward.

The Senate passed a bipartisan bill on immigration earlier this year, but it has stalled since being handed to the House. Most House Republicans prefer a piece-by-piece approach.

House Speaker John Boehner expressed optimism on Wednesday about House action by year's end on efforts to overhaul immigration.

"I still think immigration reform is an important subject that needs to be addressed. And I'm hopeful," Boehner told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference when asked if the House can act in the remaining weeks.

The House has just five legislative weeks left though lawmakers indicated that could change.

Business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, labor unions and religious organizations including U.S. Catholic bishops and evangelicals are pressing for immigration legislation. Many of their members plan a concerted lobbying effort on Capitol Hill next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report