Today President Obama delivered his address to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. This speech comes a day after Governor Romney addressed the same crowd and a week after the Obama administration announced that it would not deport DREAM eligible young people.
Obama covered education, framed issues of class, entrepreneurship, and health care in terms of a vision of America that provides access and opportunities for all. He mentioned expanding access for Pell Grants, which gave an additional 150,000 children in the Latino community an opportunity to attend college. He addressed how his administration has expanded access to credit and has helped Latino-owned businesses, which are the fastest growing small businesses in the country. And he affirmed his commitment to the Affordable Care Act saying, “That was the right thing to do,” while reminding the audience that the Latino community has the highest uninsured rate.
The President took the opportunity to defend his administration’s actions on immigration last week citing gridlock in Congress that forced him to take action. He explained that the DREAM Act isn’t new, that it was originally a bi-partisan piece of legislation, and that the need for this law hasn’t changed. Instead, the President said that the political environment has changed.
In making the case for his administration’s directive, the President stated, “It’s not amnesty. It falls short of where we need to be –a path to citizenship; it’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while offering some justice to these young people. But it’s precisely because it’s temporary, Congress still needs to come up with a long-term immigration solution — rather than argue that we did this the wrong way or for the wrong reasons.”
After explaining why he felt compelled to act to provide relief to DREAMers, Obama reminded the audience that Mitt Romney has promised to veto the DREAM Act. Although yesterday, Romney did indicate that he would support a military version of the DREAM Act.
The focus on immigration in the President’s speech did not address the points of criticism by many immigration activists. Obama’s Department of Homeland Security has been setting records in the number of people who have been deported, and there have been incidences where the Border Patrol has been accused of using excessive force.
Overall, the President’s message was one of optimism, hope, and finally “Sí, se puede.”
Check out the speech in its entirety below: