USA TODAY - President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama visited Friday with a group of protesters who are fasting in an effort to pressure Congress to pass an immigration bill.
The Obamas praised organizers Eliseo Medina and Dae Joong Yoon and thanked "all of the fasters for their sacrifice and dedication, and told them that the country is behind them on immigration reform," according to a White House statement.
Obama's comments were inaudible to a pool of reporters.
The president said "it is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon," according to a White House statement. "He said that the only thing standing in the way is politics, and it is the commitment to change from advocates like these brave fasters that will help pressure the House to finally act."
The Obamas spoke for about a half-hour with "individuals taking part in Fast for Families on the National Mall and offer their support for those who are fasting on behalf of immigration reform," according to an earlier White House statement.
The Democratic-run Senate passed an immigration bill earlier this year. The Republican-run House has not taken up the issue. Some Republicans object to a proposed pathway to citizenship for people who are already in the United States illegally, calling it amnesty for lawbreakers.
Vice President Biden has previously visited the site of the immigration fast, as have other top administration officials.
Earlier this week, Mrs. Obama tweeted out her support, saying: "As families begin to gather for Thanksgiving, I'm thinking of the brave #Fast4Families immigration reform advocates. We're with you. -mo."
At an immigration speech Friday in San Francisco, Obama said, "Right now, I'm seeing brave advocates who have been fasting for two weeks in the shadow of the Capitol, sacrificing themselves in an effort to get Congress to act."
The White House said that, in addition to Biden, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez, Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Muñoz and Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett have also visited the Fast for Families site in recent weeks.
Said the statement: "Since Nov. 12, immigration activists comprising Fast for Families have abstained from all food except water and are calling for the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives to take up action on comprehensive immigration reform."