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Obama still getting heckled by immigration reform advocates

President Obama delivers remarks on the new steps he will be taking within his executive authority on immigration at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, November 21, 2014.

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

Last Updated Nov 21, 2014 5:45 PM EST

A day after he announced executive actions that will defer the deportation of around 5 million undocumented immigrants, President Obama was still getting heckled by immigration reform advocates looking for more action.

Speaking at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, Nevada -- where he laid out his principles for comprehensive immigration reform nearly two years ago -- Mr. Obama detailed the elements of his current plan.

About halfway through the president's remarks, activists Jose Patiño and Angel Fernandez, "dreamers" from Arizona whose parents brought them into the country when they were children, asked Mr. Obama why their were parents left behind: "Why did you leave my mom behind?" they shouted.

Mr. Obama responded, "Not everybody will qualify, and that's the truth. That's why we're going to have to pass a bill."

The hecklers continued, prompting an exasperated-looking president to say, "I heard you and what I'm saying is, we're still going to have to pass a bill. This is the first step, it's not the only step."

Over the course of the year, immigration reform advocates have aggressively heckled Mr. Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other politicians.

The crowd attempted to drown out the hecklers and cheer on Mr. Obama. After he made the point that Congress should pass more comprehensive immigration reforms, the crowd began to chant, "Pass a bill! Pass a bill!"

Earlier in the day, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, suggested he's not ready to give up on passing immigration reform. At the same time, Boehner once again charged that Mr. Obama's unilateral actions have made it nearly impossible to get anything done in Congress.

"With this action the president has chosen to deliberately sabotage any chance of enacting bipartisan reforms that he claims to seek," he said.

Mr. Obama responded to that charge with incredulity.

"My actions sabotage their ability to pass a bill and make immigration work better -- why?!" he asked. "I didn't dissolve parliament, that's not how this works. I didn't steal away the various clerks in the House and the Senate who manage bills -- they can still pass a bill! I don't have a vote in Congress, you don't need me to pass a bill."

Mr. Obama added, "I don't have the authority" to take certain important steps, such as creating new programs for farmworkers, we should be adding visas for the high-tech sector and creating a pathway to citizenship.

The president noted that the Democratic-led Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill 512 days ago, but the House never put it up for a full vote. He suggested that he did everything in his power to try to convince Boehner to hold a vote on it.

"I cajoled and I called... I told Boehner, I'll wash your car, I'll wash your dog -- whatever you need to do, just call the bill," he said. "That's how democracy's supposed to work... at least give it a shot."

Earlier this month, Boehner suggested the politics were too intractable in the House to get the support needed for the bill.

"I could regale you with all of my challenges of trying to get members on both sides of the aisle to go along with this," the speaker lamented. However, he added, "Hope springs eternal."