Protesters call for immigration reform during Obama visit

AUSTIN -- After a two-day trip to Texas, President Barack Obama is back in Washington D.C. While he spoke about the economy in Austin, another issue really ended up taking "center stage" both inside and outside the Paramount Theatre.

Thursday morning, the sidewalk outside the Paramount was packed with people waiting to hear the president speak -- but some people wanted to do some talking of their own. Protesters lined up with homemade signs, calling on the president to look at the nation's immigration policies.

A small group of them rallied to keep Jessica Zumaia's husband from being deported. She says if he gets deported, she and their six children, who are U.S. citizens, will have to follow.

Protesters were inside the theatre as well. Two young men interrupted the president's speech, demanding immigration reform as Obama mentioned those who disapprove of his efforts to improve immigration.

"I'm sorry, what are you yelling about now?" the president asked when he heard the men cry out. "Sit down, guys, I'm almost done. C'mon, sit down. I'll talk to you afterwards, I promise."

And Obama followed through on that promise. When he was done speaking, he called the brothers, ages 16 and 21, backstage for a quick meeting. KVUE's partners at the Austin American-Statesman report they told Obama about their mother, who could face deportation at any time.

The president caught criticism for not paying a visit to the border while he was in Texas, instead inviting Gov. Rick Perry to a last-minute meeting in Dallas.

The White House defends the president, saying the administration is paying attention and working on the immigration crisis. Obama officials say top-level staff have made frequent trips to the border: five trips in the last few weeks, with a sixth visit planned for Friday. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson will meet with local leaders in Weslaco in the Rio Grande Valley.


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