Biden Sent to Boston as Obama Holds Immigration Meeting; Press Denied 'Moment of Silence' Access
President Obama sent Vice President Biden up to Boston to mark the one-year anniversary of the marathon bombings while he stayed in Washington for an Oval Office meeting on immigration reform.
"This morning, the President met with faith leaders in the Oval Office to discuss the importance of taking action to pass commonsense immigration reform," the White House said in a statement. "The faith leaders shared with the President stories about the impact the failure to fix the immigration system has on families in their congregations and communities. The President expressed deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system. He emphasized that while his Administration can take steps to better enforce and administer immigration laws, nothing can replace the certainty of legislative reform and this permanent solution can only be achieved by Congress."
"The President and the religious leaders expressed their longstanding commitment to immigration reform as a moral imperative and pledged to continue to urge Congress to act on reform as soon as possible. The President thanked the faith leaders for their leadership on this issue and their tireless efforts to encourage Congress to finish the job."
Congress is out on spring break. In the meeting were senior adviser Valerie Jarrett; Dr. Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association in Chicago; Luis Cortes, president, Esperanza in Philadelphia; JoAnne Lyon, general superintendent, The Wesleyan Church in Indianapolis; Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville; Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta; and Dieter Uchtdorf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in North Salt Lake City.
The White House said Obama marked the one-year anniversary of the Boston Marathon attack with a closed-press moment of silence while meeting with senior advisers in the Oval Office.
In the afternoon, he had a meeting scheduled with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. In the evening, the president and the first lady planned to mark the beginning of Passover with a closed-press Seder with friends and staff in the Old Family Dining Room.
Press secretary Jay Carney told reporters at the daily briefing that "without reading out private conversations that the president has had, I think the president believes that there is an opportunity that still exists for House Republicans to follow the lead of the Senate, including Republicans in the Senate, and take up and pass comprehensive immigration reform."
"And, today's meeting, that the president had with faith leaders, demonstrates and reinforces the fact that there is a broad, unusually broad coalition that supports that effort, that supports comprehensive immigration reform, and all the benefits that making reform the law would provide to the country, to our security, to our economy, to our businesses," he added.
The first question Carney received was a request to open Obama's observation of the Boston Marathon bombings to the White House press pool.
"Well, the president's going to have a moment of silence in the Oval Office. There'll be some senior advisers there. It's during the course of a meeting. We certainly think that the -- the moment is important but it is mostly important in Boston, and I appreciate the request," Carney replied, arguing that if they let one independent media photographer inside other news organizations may feel at a "competitive disadvantage."
"So, that goes to one side of the argument, but not the one that has to do with access of the free press," he said.
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