On Thursday evening, President Barack Obama promised Hispanic leaders executive amnesty and vowed that he will not give up his fight for permanent amnesty for illegal immigrants. However, he also conceded that more work needed to be done to win public support because the American people do not support such legislation.
Speaking at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Dinner, Obama said he would enact his executive amnesty between the November elections and the end of this year and reiterated that it “was not a question of if but when.”
But he asked Latinos to convince more Americans to back a more comprehensive bill to make his executive actions more permanent.
“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,” Obama conceded. “No matter how bold I am, nothing I can do will be as comprehensive or lasting as a Senate bill. Anything I can do can be reversed by the next president.”
Many pro-amnesty advocates felt betrayed that Obama reneged on his promise to enact a massive temporary amnesty that would have also provided work permits to millions of illegal immigrants “by the end of summer.” Obama acknowledged that there is “deep frustration in many communities around the country right now” and said, “I share it.” Obama was heckled during parts of speech and pro-amnesty demonstrators protested outside.
“I’m not going to give up this fight until it gets done,” he continued.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), one of the leading voices for amnesty, has said that when the White House asked for forbearance, he demanded interest in the form of a broader executive amnesty. But Obama said that legislation is ultimately needed to move beyond what he can do in a limited capacity with executive actions.
Obama blamed what he said could possibly be “the most uncooperative House of Representatives in history” for stalling amnesty legislation that the Congressional Budget Office determined would lower the wages of American workers. He warned that as soon as he enacts his executive amnesty later this year, opponents of amnesty “will roll out the same old scare tactics.” To counter that, Obama said he would spend the next months “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,” he said, before asking the Latino community to vote in addition to pressuring Congress.
But massive amnesty remains unpopular to broad swaths of the American public, including Democrats. Last week, Obama did not mention immigration at all when speaking to the Congressional Black Caucus Dinner. And Obama delayed his executive actions until after the midterms to help Senate Democrats retain control of the Senate. He conceded last month in an interview with Meet the Press‘s Chuck Todd that the border crisis—which the mainstream press was forced to cover after Breitbart Texas published leaked photos of children being warehoused—shifted public opinion even more against amnesty.
A recent national poll found that a strong majority (67%) of Americans are opposed executive amnesty before the borders are secure and even a majority of Democrats are opposed to illegal immigrants from Central America receiving government benefits. Obama has also hit record lows in numerous national polls on his handling of illegal immigration in recent months.