News / USA

Obama Urges Hispanic Support on Immigration, Economy

US President Barack Obama shakes hands after speaking at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC, July 25, 2011
US President Barack Obama shakes hands after speaking at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza at the Marriot Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, DC, July 25, 2011

In an address in Washington to a major Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, President Barack Obama has underscored his determination to achieve comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration laws. The president also used the address to make some points about the current difficult deficit and debt negotiations with Congress.

The president's address to the National Council of La Raza came at a time when he is working to maintain or win back support from Latinos whose votes he will need to win re-election in 2012.m

Among the statistics forming a backdrop to the appearance: his approval rating among Hispanics suffered a four-point decline recently, from 59 percent to 55 percent, according to a recent Gallup survey.  

At the same time, public-opinion polls show immigration reform remains a critical issue for Hispanics, including those attending the largest annual gathering of Latinos.

Introducing the president, the head of La Raza, Janet Murguia, praised his efforts to improve the lives of Hispanic-Americans, and bring Latinos into his administration, but she also noted "unfinished business" when it comes to immigration.

"Virtually everyone in this room has been affected by our nation's broken immigration system and the record number of deportations," said Murguia.

In his remarks Obama recalled a pledge he made as a presidential candidate in 2008 to make immigration reform a top priority in his first year in the White House. He acknowledged frustration the goal has not been achieved.

"I share your concerns, and I understand them, and I promise you we are responding to your concerns and working every day to make sure we are enforcing flawed laws in the most humane and best possible way," said Obama.

The president again blamed inaction on immigration reform, and related legislation called the Dream Act, which would provide a citizenship path for certain children of illegal immigrants, on congressional Republicans who he said have blocked progress.

"Twenty three Republican senators supported comprehensive immigration reform because they knew it was the right thing to do for the economy and it was the right thing to do for America," he said. "Today they have walked away. Republicans helped write the Dream Act, because they knew it was the right thing to do for America. Today, they have walked away."

Obama told La Raza that Hispanics have benefited from steps his administration has taken to improve the U.S. education system, including help for English language instruction and investing in community colleges.  

The president also used the speech to reiterate broad themes of his struggle with Republicans in Congress to achieve what he calls a balanced agreement to cut deficit spending and raise the nation's $14.3 trillion debt limit by August 2.

Noting that Hispanic families struggle with millions of other Americans in a tough economy, he reiterated his readiness in negotiations to make cuts "by historic amounts" in key government programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Saying the United States "can not just close deficits by cutting spending" Obama also spoke about what he called the "heart of this debate."

"Are we a nation that asks only the middle class and the poor to bear the burden, after they have seen their jobs disappear and their incomes decline over a decade? Are we a people who break the promises we have made to seniors or the disabled, and leave them to fend for themselves?" he asked.

Saying Washington is a city "where compromise is becoming a dirty word," Obama urged Hispanics to remember that he and Democrats are with them when it comes to the need to change America's "broken immigration system."

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs