WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama Thursday called for an end to the false debates and heated politics blocking a push for immigration reform, an issue with deep implications for the 2012 elections.

Obama met activists and influential Hispanic personalities at the White House, including screen stars Eva Longoria and America Ferrera, and reiterated his desire to seek congressional action on an issue vital to the Latino community, an increasingly important political grouping.

"The president reiterated his deep disappointment that congressional action on immigration reform has stalled," the White House said in a statement.

"The president reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system."

Obama also added that "more voices are needed to elevate the immigration debate beyond the politics, false debates, and rhetoric that have dominated the issue," the White House said.

Immigration reform, and providing a path to citizenship for 12 million illegal immigrants left in the shadows, is one of the most bitterly divisive unsolved issues in American politics today.

Obama has blamed a Republican "blockade" for the fact that comprehensive immigration reform has not even reached the starting line in Congress since he was inaugurated as president.

But some Obama critics have accused the president of raising immigration reform in the knowledge that it cannot pass, simply to pin the blame on Republicans and win favor with Hispanic voters before his reelection bid next year.

The last major attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform failed during ex-president George W. Bush's second term (2005-2009) amid ferocious political partisanship.