President Obama asked faith leaders Tuesday to help him push an immigration bill through the Republican-led U.S. House.
"The President and the religious leaders expressed their longstanding commitment to immigration reform as a moral imperative," said a White House statement.
Obama, aides and a half-dozen guests discussed how families have been separated because of existing immigration laws. Faith leaders discussed "the impact the failure to fix the immigration system has on families in their congregations and communities," the White House said.
The Senate passed an immigration bill last year that included a pathway to citizenship for people who are in the country illegally. Many House Republicans opposed such a provision, calling it amnesty for lawmakers.
Obama, meanwhile, has been criticized for his record levels of deportation.
In Tuesday's meeting, Obama said 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," according to the White House.
The participants in the meeting, said the White House:
• Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to the president
• Melissa Rogers, executive director, White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships
• Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association, Chicago
• Luis Cortes, president, Esperanza, Philadelphia
• JoAnne Lyon, general superintendent, the Wesleyan Church, Indianapolis
• Russell Moore, Southern Baptist Convention, Nashville, Tenn.
• Suzii Paynter, executive coordinator, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Atlanta
• Dieter Uchtdorf, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, North Salt Lake City