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Obama invokes Thanksgiving spirit on immigration

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    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama is traveling on a three day West Coast swing to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles that will feature a bit of official business but mostly fundraising for the Democratic party. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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    Ju Hong, third from top left, interrupts President Barack Obama's speech about immigration reform, Monday, Nov, 25, 2103, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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    President Barack Obama responds to a heckler during his speech about anti-deportation policies at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco.

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    President Barack Obama turns around to respond to hecklers interrupting his speech about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama's speech was dramatically interrupted by hecklers, located directly behind him, who urged him to halt deportations, of which his administration has conducted a record number. One young man shouted about his family being separated for Thanksgiving, and said Obama should use his executive power to stop this. "Stop deportations, yes we can," the man and other people chanted. The president stopped Secret Service agents who tried to remove the protesters.(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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    President Barack Obama walks out as he is in introduced before speaking about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama is traveling on a three day West Coast swing to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles that will feature a bit of official business but mostly fundraising for the Democratic party. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Monday, Nov, 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. The president is invoking the Thanksgiving spirit in search of an immigration deal with Congress. The president says he's willing to go along with House Republicans who want to break immigration reform into pieces. That's a different approach than the Democratic-controlled Senate that passed a comprehensive bill including border security and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the US. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform after being interrupted by audience members behind him, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

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    President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama is traveling on a three day West Coast swing to Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles that will feature a bit of official business but mostly fundraising for the Democratic party. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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    President Barack Obama, left, stops his speech and turns around in response to an unidentified man, right, who heckled him about anti-deportation policies, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco. Obama stopped his speech about immigration reform to let this man, who was located directly behind Obama, speak and would respond to his questions. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

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President Barack Obama responds to a heckler during his speech about anti-deportation policies at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in San Francisco.

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SAN FRANCISCO — President Barack Obama invoked the Thanksgiving spirit Monday in search of an immigration deal with Congress, making a pitch for a legislative priority amid a West Coast fundraising swing.

The Democratic-controlled Senate has passed a comprehensive bill that includes border security and a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants illegally in the United States. Obama prefers that approach but says he’s willing to go along with House Republicans who want to break immigration reform into pieces.

“It’s Thanksgiving. We can carve that bill into multiple pieces,” Obama said to laughter at the Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center in the Chinatown neighborhood.

Obama said a quarter of the foreign-born population in the United States in 2011 came from Asian countries, and more than a million of the 11 million immigrants in the U.S. illegally are from Asia.

Later, Obama was interrupted by a heckler standing on the stage behind him who shouted at the president to stop deportations that split up families. Obama says he needs Congress to change the law to have that power. When security tried to remove the demonstrator from the event, Obama said he could stay and that they share the same goal.

“It won’t be as easy as just shouting. It requires us lobbying,” Obama said.

Facing opposition from many rank-and-file Republicans, House GOP leaders don’t plan to hold any votes on immigration during what remains of this year.

At the San Francisco Jazz Center hours later, Obama reflected in personal terms about his own family’s struggles as he continued a fundraising swing he started the night before in Seattle.

He said he starts each morning thinking about how he found himself in public service in the first place: the difficulties for his grandmother, who as a woman hit a glass ceiling in her career; his mother, who relied on scholarships as a single mom; and his wife’s father, a blue-collar worker who never went to college. Obama said he thinks about his family’s trajectory and what the U.S. has done for his family.

“I travel around the country and I see that story repeated over and over again,” Obama said, adding that he feels privileged to be president “because in some small measure every single day I have an opportunity to advance that story.”

After the pair of fundraisers in San Francisco on Monday, Obama was headed to Los Angeles to raise money for House and Senate Democrats. One event will be held at the home of Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the former NBA star and now co-owner of baseball’s Los Angeles Dodgers.

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