Business groups, immigrant advocates, labor unions, law enforcement groups and religious organizations were all represented at a big White House meeting Thursday on immigration. And when it ended, some of the nearly 100 attendees left uncertain about what it all meant, or where things were heading.

Some told Washington Wire that they thought the session, hosted by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, was less about policy and more about public relations, especially given that some advocacy groups are growing more and more vocal and more and more unhappy.

Napolitano made an opening statement about broad principles — nothing new there, some attendees said — before the crowd broke into “working groups.” They covered basic ground — how to bring illegal immigrants out from the shadows, how to fashion a potential guest-worker program, how to improve family reunification, and how to develop effective and smart enforcement. Administration note takers scribbled away. Kal Penn, of “Harold and Kumar” fame, who now does public outreach for the White House, talked with attendees.

They came together again at the end, and just when Napolitano indicated she was ready to take questions, President Barack Obama walked into the room — surprise, surprise — and gave a pep talk. With that, the meeting ended, letting Napolitano off the hook. Some advocates had been looking for a chance to vent their dissatisfaction with the administration’s enforcement approach, part of Napolitano’s responsibilities.

Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, said in a statement afterwards that “pro-reform constituencies are growing impatient.” He said he was pleased to hear Napolitano and Obama reaffirm their support for overhauling immigration laws, but also made it clear he wants to see more vocal leadership from the administration.

Napolitano’s own statement called the meeting “an important opportunity to hear from stakeholders” and build on her meetings with Congress “on this critical subject.” Officials declined to discuss details about the session.

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