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Obama says lack of progress on immigration reform 'frustrating,' but sees promise in 2014

President Obama speaks to reporters Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 during a year-end press conference at the White House.
President Obama speaks to reporters Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 during a year-end press conference at the White House.
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In his year-end press conference Friday, President Barack Obama said relatively little about immigration - in fact, it wasn't part of his address, which in large part focused on the economy, jobs, and the Affordable Care Act.

But in the question-and-answer session with reporters that followed, he did talk about the frustration of not getting an immigration overhaul through Congress this year.

"Immigration reform is probably the biggest thing I wanted do get done this year," Obama said.

But he added that while "it is obviously frustrating," he sees some promise for movement on immigration next year, citing Republican House Speaker John Boehner's recent indications that he may move something forward. "There are indications in the House that although it did not get completed this year, there is a commitment on the part of the Speaker to try to move forward legislation this next year," Obama said.

He later added, "We have a concept that has bipartisan support. Let's see if we can break through the politics."

However, Obama appeared to stick with the Senate bill that was approved in June as the best template, in spite of recent comments that he's willing to consider the piecemeal approach favored by many Republicans.

"The fact of the matter is that the Senate bill has the main components of comprehensive immigration reform that would boost our economy and give us an opportunity to attract more investment, and high-skilled workers who are doing great things in places like Silicon Valley and  around the country," Obama said. "So let's go ahead and get that done."

There was no mention, however, of Thursday's announcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which reported that the government deported 368,644 immigrants from the United States in fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30.

It's the lowest number of deportations since before the start of the Obama administration, after years of record highs; since 2009, more than 1.9 million immigrants have been removed from the country.

Rising deportations during the Obama administration - the most in 2012, when 409,849 immigrants were removed - have prompted harsh criticism of Obama's immigration enforcement policies. In recent months, as immigration reform has stalled in Congress, a growing number of activists and politicians have been calling on Obama to halt deportations and give more immigrants a reprieve from removal.