Obama’s Promise to Reform Immigration in Five Years

President Obama predicted re-election in an interview this week with Univision Radio, telling a largely Hispanic audience he will use a second term to push comprehensive immigration overhaul. “My presidency is not over,” Obama said when asked about the failure to come up with an immigration bill. “I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done.” Obama rejected suggestions that the lack of an immigration bill is a broken campaign promise, saying “we’re going to need help from Congress” and Republicans have blocked legislation.

The re-election candidate said his Republican candidates oppose comprehensive immigration overhaul, which involves tighter border enforcement as well as a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already here. Obama also made what appeared to be a reference to Republican candidate Mitt Romney, who opposes legislation that would offer potential citizenship to illegal immigrants who attend college or join the military.

“So far, have we haven’t seen any of the Republican candidates even support immigration reform,” Obama said. “In fact, their leading candidate said he would veto even the Dream Act, much less comprehensive immigration reform.” Obama’s reference was to Mitt Romney’s own statements regarding how he would not support the DREAM Act as it stood. At a debate in Florida, Mitt Romney reiterated the harder stance he took Iowa and South Carolina by saying that “I’d just noted that’s the same position that I have, and that’s that I wouldn’t sign the Dream Act as it currently exists, but I would sign the Dream Act if it were focused on military service.” Even changing his stance slightly, Mitt Romney shows that it is not enough having good moral character and wanting to go forward with a college education should help put a child out of status on the path to legal status. It is amazing how Mitt Romney and others who tout a hardline stance for immigration cannot imagine being in that situation, since they would likely change their tune if it was one of their own relatives who suffered in the same situation.

Obama taped the Univision interview a day before traveling to Florida, where the growing Hispanic vote is considered essential. Some observers see the national Hispanic vote as the key to the entire election. When it comes to immigration, Hispanics should also examine who they support for House and Senate seats, Obama said.

The president also said, “I would have only broken my promise if I hadn’t tried” to get an immigration reform bill. “But, ultimately, I’m one man,” he said. “You know, we live in a democracy. We don’t live in a monarchy. I’m not the king. I’m the president. And so, I can only implement those laws that are passed through Congress.” This statement holds true when considering how the president can only enforce laws that Congress passes. His track record regarding immigration is further bolstered when looking at the directives enforced through the Department of Homeland Security regarding the use of prosecutorial discretion. It is the Executive branch that oversees DHS, which means Obama’s role in immigration has been more than his endorsement of the DREAM Act and other bills that would help deal with the various immigration problems that exist.

Bottom line, the track record of President Obama shows that his efforts have been towards making changes in the current immigration system that would alleviate many problems that exist, while the current leading Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, would take a hardline stance that will make it harder for any real immigration reform to happen. If immigration reform is an important issue, Obama and any Senate and House of Representatives who support reform are the ones to vote for in the coming election.