A Timeline of Obama's Slow-Motion Play on Immigration

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With immigration reform at a standstill in Congress, President Obama is trying to keep the issue alive by taking his message to Spanish-language media outlets this week.

The president will appear on Univision and Telemundo TV stations that air in Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey.

While an immigration reform bill made its way through the Senate this spring, the president stayed mostly silent. But the Republican-controlled House of Representatives isn't in a hurry to pass any type of immigration legislation, so it's a good time for Obama to speak up.

While the president has talked about passing immigration reform since his 2008 campaign, he was slow to get things started. Here's a quick look back at how Obama has handled the issue, so far:

Watch: Obama Steps Up His Immigration Game

Jorge Ramos
"The Promise" - June 2008

When unraveling the narrative of Obama on immigration, one moment stands above the rest: "La Promesa," or "The Promise."

In an interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos -- one of the most trusted news voices in Spanish-language media -- then-Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said that he would introduce a comprehensive immigration reform bill during his first year in office.

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Hispanics help usher Obama to victory - November 2008

Obama outed Republican candidate John McCain in the 2008 presidential election, taking key states like Florida, Colorado and California. Hispanic voters backed Obama by a margin of more than two-to-one.

While immigration clearly wasn't the only issue that mattered to those voters, a strong majority of Hispanics consistently back an overhaul of the country's immigration laws.

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Immigration takes a backseat - January 2010

Once the president took office, his first priority was passing a healthcare bill. That fight dominated his agenda, and immigration was practically invisible in Washington.

Obama barely mentioned immigration during his State of the Union speech, one year into his presidency:

"We should continue the work of fixing our immigration system," Obama said. "To secure our borders and enforce our laws and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation."

He did back an effort in Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for certain undocumented young people. But that attempt fell flat when the bill failed to pass the Senate in late 2010.

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A focus on enforcement - January 2009 to present day

Immigration reform may have disappeared from the agenda, but the president continued to ramp up enforcement of immigration laws. Throughout his first term in office, he deported roughly 1.6 million people, reaching historic yearly highs for removals.

The deportations were fueled by a new federal program called Secure Communities, which required local law enforcement agencies to share fingerprints of arrestees with the federal government. Those prints would be checked against immigration databases, and could lead to deportations of people arrested for lesser crimes, like traffic violations.

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Relief for DREAMers - June 2012

Even as the president authorized more than a million deportations, his administration altered immigration enforcement to focus more on people with criminal records.

Part of that shift came with "prosecutorial discretion," a 2011 policy shift that told federal immigration agents to focus on higher priority cases and opened up the possibility for immigration relief for some immigrants.

An even bigger change came a year later, when the president announced that certain undocumented young people -- DREAMers -- would be able to live and work in the country legally.

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Another promise, another election victory - November 2012

Circling back in a way that politicians do so naturally, Obama repeated his promise to introduce an immigration reform bill, this time while he was running for re-election in 2012.

Again, the president found strong support among Latino and Asian voters. In a narrower contest, the president beat out challenger Mitt Romney, who perform poorly among those same voters after embracing "self deportation" as his immigration policy.

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Ceding to the Senate - January 2013 to July 2013

The president made it clear that he intended to address immigration this time around, and that it was a "top priority."

But when a group of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate started to work on their own immigration reform bill, he got out of the way, at their request.

Aside from a leaked copy of the president's immigration plan that surfaced in the media in February, he mostly sat back while the Senate worked to draft and pass legislation.

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Entering the fray - July 2013

The "Gang of Eight" working on immigration reform in the Senate put together a bill that addressed everything from citizenship for undocumented immigrants to massive increases in border spending. After some dealmaking, the bill passed there in late June.

Now the focus is on the House, but Republicans, who hold the majority there, are hardly rushing to take on any immigration plan that legalizes millions of people living here without authorization.

Enter Obama. The White House has become increasingly vocal about passing immigration reform, embracing the economic case for a bill. That might irritate Republicans, who would rather see the president stay out of the debate. But if Republicans continue to move at a crawl, there isn't much to lose.

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