President Obama Prods Republicans in Speech on Comprehensive Immigration Reform

"They have 59 Democrats in the Senate. They had 60 at one time. They have an overwhelming number in the House, and they haven't done a doggone thing for immigrants or to solve the immigration problems," said Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch on ABC News' "Top Line."

"You know doggone well there's no way they can put an immigration bill through in the remaining days that we have in this Congress," Hatch added.

In March, Obama urged the Senate to act on Schumer's and Graham's bipartisan proposal "at the earliest possible opportunity" and said he would "do everything in my power to forge a bipartisan consensus this year" on immigration reform.

But after the bruising and partisan battle over health care reform, Graham and many Republicans have been reluctant to join with Democrats to address the issue. And ahead of November's midterm elections, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have emphasized the need to "secure the border first" before considering a comprehensive immigration reform bill.

"Once we get the border secured, then we can support a lot of things," Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., said earlier this month. "Until then, it's going to be very difficult." Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has dismissed those claims as unrealistic.

"The notion that you're going to somehow seal the border and only at that point will you discuss immigration reform – that is not an answer to the problem," she said.

In the past year, the administration has detained and deported a record number of illegal immigrants and amassed unprecedented levels of border patrol agents and asked for other security measures along the border. Last month, Obama announced the deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops to the southwest border, including 524 to Arizona, and requested $500 million in emergency funds for beefed-up measures.

"For months, we have been demanding that this administration take action and be the lead on comprehensive immigration reform. And then, from the White House, we hear a president that's committed and assertive and in command and in charge," Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez told ABC News. "He has a very clear commitment to getting this done."

Immigrant Groups Look for Action from White House, Congress

Democrats are eager to court Latino voters ahead of November's midterm elections amid worry that inaction on immigration reform could hurt the party at the ballot box. But today Obama offered no specific timeline for achieving an immigration reform bill.

"Actions speak louder than words," said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, an immigrant advocacy group. "The president must take action and lead Congress in reforming a broken immigration system that offends our most basic values."

Two thirds of Latino voters, who have been a staunch Democratic voting bloc, cast ballots for Obama in 2008. But experts say Latino voter turnout could suffer, particularly in the 2012 presidential campaign, if they continue to be disappointed.

The latest Gallup poll shows Hispanics' approval of President Obama has fallen from 69 percent in January to 57 percent in May.

Congress last enacted immigration reform legislation in 1986, when millions of illegal immigrants were granted amnesty and enforcement measures were strengthened. That effort proved ineffective at curtailing the flow of illegal immigrants, 12 million of whom are now estimated to reside in the United States.

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