New York – President Barack Obama acknowledged Tuesday that his administration was unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform, a promise he made during his 2008 campaign, but said that was because immigration had become a partisan issue.
"When I came into office I said 'I’m going to push to get this done.' We didn’t get it done," Obama said during a press conference at the White House. "The reason we haven’t got it done is because what used to be a bipartisan issue, agreement that we should fix this, ended up becoming a partisan issue."
Obama was responding to a question about recent polls showing the president holding a favorable lead among Latinos against the GOP candidates in the run-up to November’s elections, despite growing disappointment among the community about the failure of any immigration reform.
A Fox News Latino/Latin Insights poll released Monday of likely Latino voters indicated that 73 percent of them approved of Obama’s performance in office, with over half those questioned looking favorably upon his handling of the healthcare debate and the economy, at 66 percent and 58 percent respectively.
More than half of the poll’s respondents, however, said they felt U.S. immigration policy was too strict and an overwhelming majority – 85 percent – would like to see undocumented immigrants have a chance to legalize their status. A huge percentage, 82 percent, believe undocumented immigrants do work that Americans will not do. They feel the undocumented workers help expand the economy.
"My hope is that after this election the Latino community will have sent a strong message that they want a bipartisan effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform that involves making sure that we got tough border security, and this administration has done more for border security than just about anybody," Obama said, adding that immigration reform also needed to include making sure companies don't take advantage of undocumented workers and that there was a clear path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
An overwhelming majority of those polled --nine out of ten-- support the DREAM Act, which would allow undocumented immigrants brought as children to gain legal U.S. residency if they attend college or join the military.
Obama praised former President George W. Bush and his advisors for saying that immigration reform should not be something that just the Democrats support. "That was good advice then, it's good advice now," Obama said.
The president continued on to say that Congress needs to unify under this matter if any progress is going to be made toward passing immigration reform.
"Ultimately I can’t vote for Republicans. They’re going to have to come to the conclusion that this is good for the country and that this is something that they themselves think is important," Obama said. "Depending on how Congress turns out, we’ll see how many Republican votes we’ll need to get it done."