In pitch to Latinos, Obama renews pledge on immigration reform
In an election-year pitch to a core constituency, Obama told a friendly audience of Latino leaders meeting in the battleground state of Florida that he would renew his fight for immigration reform.
In an address to a friendly audience of Latino leaders Friday, President Obama pledged to renew the battle for comprehensive immigration reform, blaming Congress for the lack of progress on the issue since he took office.Skip to next paragraph
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It was an election-year pitch aimed at one of the president’s core constituencies – Latino voters, who supported Mr. Obama by a 2-to-1 margin in 2008.
While the economy is the dominant issue of the election, immigration touches many Latino voters personally, through their own experience and through that of family and friends. The heated rhetoric by some Republicans on illegal immigration offers Obama an opportunity to score big again.
Obama spoke of how close the country came to bipartisan reform six years ago under President Bush, only to fail. This stalemate, he says, has given rise to a “patchwork of state laws that cause more problems than they solve and are often doing more harm than good.”
“As long as I am president of the United States, I will not give up the fight to change it,” he told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), meeting near Orlando.
Florida is the largest electoral battleground state in the country, and turnout among the state’s large Latino population could spell the difference between victory and defeat for Obama in November.
A Supreme Court decision is due next week on Arizona’s tough new immigration law, and if any of it is upheld, in defiance of the Obama administration’s wishes, that will strike a blow to the president’s hopes of keeping tight federal control on immigration rules.
On Thursday Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, addressed NALEO and laid out his own plan for immigration, mainly focused on ways to make the system of legal immigration work better. Mr. Romney struck a softer tone on illegal immigration than he had during the primaries, when he suggested that “self-deportation” could be a way to reduce the ranks of undocumented workers.
During a GOP debate, Romney had also pledged to veto the DREAM Act, legislation aimed at offering young illegal immigrants a path to citizenship, if he became president. But he eased slightly on that position, agreeing with Newt Gingrich that military service could be a path to legal status (though not citizenship) for young undocumented immigrants.