Obama tells Latino voters he can’t conjure immigration reform alone


LOS ANGELES — In an effort to energize Latino voters, President Barack Obama defended his administration’s efforts to work for a comprehensive
immigration plan, while adding that he was frustrated by the failures
of Congress to deal with the issue.

In an interview with Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo, recorded when Obama was in Los Angeles
last week, the president blamed Republicans for refusing to work on the
needed legislation. As he has in the past, Obama noted that 11
Republican senators voted for immigration reform four years ago but
walked away from the issue in this midterm-election year.

“The fact that we have not got it done is something
that frustrates me, and I know that it frustrates many people in the
community,” Obama said, according to a transcript of the show, “Piolin
por la Manana.” “The problem that we have is, is that until I can get
some cooperation from the other side, then people who are
anti-immigration reform can continue to block it.”

When Piolin asserted that it appeared that the Obama
administration had worked less hard on immigration than it had on other
issues, such as health care, Obama disagreed.

“My Cabinet has been working very hard on trying to
get it done, but ultimately, I think somebody said the other day, I am
president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. We
have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the
executive branch to make it happen. I’m committed to making it happen,
but I’ve got to have some partners to do it,” Obama said.

Latinos were a key part of the Democratic coalition
that helped put Obama in the White House in 2008, but a recent poll by
the Pew Hispanic Center showed that they were generally unenthusiastic.
The poll found that 51 percent of registered Latinos said they would
vote in this election, compared with 70 percent of the general

The survey, based on bilingual telephone interviews with 1,375 Latinos from Aug. 17 through Sept. 19,
shows that 65 percent of registered Latino voters say they plan to
support a Democrat while 22 percent say they prefer a Republican. That
is about the same as the party identification: 62 percent of Latinos
say they favor Democrats, and a quarter say they favor Republicans. The
survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

“If the Latino community decides to sit out this
election, then there will be fewer votes, and it will be less likely to
get done,” Obama said. “Let me say this as an African-American. We
worked for decades on civil rights. Civil rights didn’t come after one
year. It didn’t come after two years. People had to march, they had to
have their heads beaten, they had fire hoses put on them. Even after
Dr. King gave his ‘I Have a Dream” speech, it still took years before
African-Americans achieved full citizenship in this country.

“Change isn’t easy,” Obama said. “It doesn’t happen overnight.”


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