President Barack Obama will head to Las Vegas on Tuesday to begin a push for immigration reform, an issue he failed to press for during his first four years in office but has called the top legislative priority of his second term.
In a statement, the White House said the president's goal was to "redouble the administration's efforts to work with Congress to fix the broken immigration system this year."
During his first term, Obama didn't push for legislative reforms to the country's immigration policies, though he did ease rules on deporting young immigrants. The president's decision allowed some young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children to apply for a two-year deferral from deportation.
Obama made vows during the presidential campaign to make immigration reform a top priority for his second term, and was heavily backed by Latino voters in November's general election. Seventy-one percent of Latino voters backed Obama, compared to 26 percent who went for Republican Mitt Romney.
That poor showing among Latinos has led to a soul-searching for Republicans, who hope to make gains among the growing voting bloc in coming years. At this week's Republican National Committee Winter Meeting in Charlotte, the party's leaders have been actively discussing ways to make their positions more appealing to more groups of people, including Latinos.
During his inauguration address, Obama previewed his push for a better and fairer immigration system, saying that Americans' "journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity."
He's expected to lay out more specifics of his immigration plan during his State of the Union address on February 12.
Aides say the president's remarks in Las Vegas will touch on the blueprint he's detailed in the past: improving border security, cracking down on employers who hire undocumented workers, and creating a pathway to "earned" citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
Ahead of the trip, the president met Friday with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus vowing to "move the debate forward," and warning that there was "no excuse for stalling or delay," the White House said in a statement following the closed door meeting.
The members of the CHC who met with Obama, all Democrats, expressed optimism following the sit-down.
"After today's meeting, it's clear that President Obama is determined to fix our long broken immigration system," Rep. Xavier Becerra , D-California, wrote. "The President expressed a great sense of urgency and that comprehensive immigration reform, including an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, is his top legislative priority."