President Barack Obama says opponents of his efforts to protect millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported fail to consider the "human consequences."
The American leader met Wednesday at the White House with six young people brought to the United States at an early age by parents who slipped into the country illegally.
Under a 2012 order, Obama protected more than 1 million young people from being deported so they could attend college or start businesses in the U.S.
He described them as "the very best that this country has to offer," and criticized legislation already approved by the House of Representatives and now being considered by the Senate that could lead to their deportation.
"I think that's wrong," the president said. "I think most Americans would think it was wrong if they had a chance to meet these young people."
The proposed immigration policy changes are included in a nearly $40 billion funding measure for the country's homeland security agency. The legislation also would block Obama's executive order late last year that protected about 5 million other immigrants from being deported so they can continue to live and work in the U.S.
As he has in recent weeks, Obama vowed to veto the legislation if Congress sends it to him for his signature and instead wants the homeland security budget approved without the immigration restrictions. He said he is confident there are not enough anti-immigration votes in Congress to override his veto.
Immigration policies are controversial in the U.S. Obama's Republican political opponents have accused him of overstepping his executive authority in issuing the immigration decrees without congressional approval.