On Thursday evening in Washington, D.C., President Obama addressed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala, an annual gathering of Latino lawmakers and politicos (aka “Latino prom”). This address came after an announcement was made last month by the White House that relief from record breaking deportations would be delayed until the holidays. President Obama had earlier expressed that some sort of executive action would be coming at the end of the summer.
Essentially, President Obama expressed to the crowd that he would do what is within his power to fix the broken immigration system. Despite this message, there were protesters outside of the gala who were demanding an immediate end to the deportations that have separated families in the Latino community.
The President told the crowd:
“I’ve said before that if Congress failed to live up to its responsibilities to solve this problem, I would act to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, and I meant what I said. So this is not a question of if, but when. Because the moment I act — and it will be taking place between the November elections and the end of the year — opponents of reform will roll out the same old scare tactics. They’ll use whatever excuse they have to try to block any attempt at immigration reform at all. And we have to be realistic: For any action to last, for it to be effective and extend beyond my administration — because I’m only here two more years — we’re going to have to build more support of the American people so that it is sustainable and lasting.
And so I am going to be spending the next month, month and a half, six weeks, eight weeks — I’m going to be spending that time not just talking about what we’ve done for the economy, but explaining why immigration reform is good for our economy, and why it’s good for everybody. And when opponents are out there saying who knows what, I’m going to need you to have my back. I’m going to need you to have my back. I’m going to need you to keep putting pressure on Congress, because the fact of the matter is no matter how bold I am, nothing I can do will be as comprehensive or lasting as the Senate bill. Anything I can do can be reversed by the next President.
To move beyond what I can do in a limited way, we are going to need legislation. And if we want that legislation to happen sooner rather than later, then there’s one more thing I need you to do — I’ve got to have you talk to your constituents and your communities, and you’ve got to get them out to vote.”
There has been a big push to get Latinos to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. Yet some now think that the President’s move to delay relief on deportations could hurt the Democrats. As suggested earlier in the day on Thursday by Ed O’Keefe of the Washington Post:
“Activists in key states say it is increasingly difficult to register would-be Latino voters who would vote for Democrats because of unhappiness over the decision. Poll numbers for Obama and Democrats have also dropped further among Hispanics than the population at large. One group has even launched a campaign against four Democratic senators who backed a GOP proposal to bar Obama from taking any executive action on immigration.”
The protests at yesterday’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala were not confined to outside the ballroom. One activist, Blanca Hernandez, shouted in protest during the President’s speech and was escorted out of the facility.
Check out the clip of Hernandez below (h/t Latino Rebels):
Photo credit: Screenshot from Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala video feed