Are President Obama's public pledges and desire to pass immigration reform and/or the Dream Act enough for Latinos to vote for him in 2012?
It was interesting watching Obama ride the wave of support after a successful Bin Laden mission to El Paso, Texas this month to push again for immigration reform – a measure even some of the most staunchest advocates feel is not going to happen before the election.
Several pundits and editorials accused Obama of pandering to Latinos as he starts his campaign on what is expected to be a very highly contested election
The Latinos who count immigration reform as their most important issue are not likely going to switch over and vote for a Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney or any other Republican candidate. However, those Latinos could certainly stay home on election day, which could prove costly.
The Latino vote was critical in the 2008 presidential election, Hispanics voted for Obama over Republican John McCain by a margin of more than two-to-one, 67 percent versus 31 percent, according to an analysis of exit polls by the Pew Hispanic Center. The Center’s analysis also found that 9 percent of the electorate was Latino, as indicated by the national exit poll.
And think about the prized 29 electoral votes in Florida, which many see as a potential game changer.
In 2008, Obama won 57 percent of the Latino vote in Florida, a state where Latinos have historically supported Republican presidential candidates. President Bush carried 56 percent of the Latino vote in Florida in 2004.
And many Latinos are disappointed in the president for failing to follow through with campaign promises on immigration reform.
“What I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting,” Obama said in an interview with the Spanish-language broadcaster Univision in 2008.
No doubt Obama’s handlers are thinking of these statistics as they scheduled speaking engagements advocating for immigration reform. But will they resonate with Latino voters?
Many advocates, including U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, have been urging Obama to use his authority to act independently and stop deportations of some groups of illegal immigrants, including undocumented students and the parents of children who are U.S. citizens.
"When the president of the United States decided there was possibly going to be an act of genocide in Libya, he bombed Gadhafi's forces," Gutierrez told the Observer on a visit to Charlotte earlier this month. "He didn't call anyone in Charlotte or Chicago. He didn't call the Congress of the United States. ... He used his discretion."
So Obama caught the ire of some Latino advocates when he launched a new campaign ad pushing the Dream Act. The ad asks his supporters to give their email address and zip code. When they click on the button “I’m in” it takes them to Obama’s campaign website.
“Obama, END Our Pain before you start your campaign!,” the headline read on United We Dream.
The authors go on to write:
"We are tired of politicians either bashing us or praising us without ending our pain. After the president's speech we knew he was on campaign mode, but these ads just brought insult to our ever-growing pain of achieving the American Dream. Until Congress passes the DREAM Act, the President has the full authority to enable us to temporarily come out of the shadows, work and contribute to our country."