(CNN) - Shortly after President Barack Obama renewed his call for immigration reform, California Governor Jerry Brown implored lawmakers in Washington Thursday to “rise to the occasion” to pass a comprehensive bill.
During impassioned remarks at a forum sponsored by the left-leaning Center for American Progress, Brown recounted how the story of a young man’s frightful childhood journey across the border convinced him of the need for immediate action.
“When I heard that story, I really got the power of these people, the courage of coming across the border. All that power: 11 million people all throughout our country waiting to come out of the shadows and do their part for America,” Brown said.
“How can these people in Washington not rise to the occasion and meet that courage with a little bit of courage down the street to vote for comprehensive immigration reform?”
Obama has made passing comprehensive reform a priority for his second term, but his efforts have been repeatedly stymied by congressional Republicans, who prefer a piecemeal approach and have sharp disagreements over the a proposed path to citizenship those who entered the country illegally.
In his remarks Thursday, Obama lauded a comprehensive reform bill that passed the Democratic-controlled Senate last June, but was blocked by House Republicans.
Brown, who signed a series of state immigration reform bills earlier this month, said the stalemate in Washington prompted him to move forward with state based reform.
“When I was asked during the campaign would you sign a bill to give illegals a driver’s license, I said no. I said we need comprehensive immigration reform,” Brown said.
“Well, because since nobody’s given us comprehensive reform, I decided no, we’re going to have to have the licenses – we’ll start our own reform in California.”