On Thursday night, Obama followed presidential candidate Mitt Romney by taking the stage at a forum broadcast live online by the Spanish-language Univision network. Much of the forum focused on Obama’s immigration record, with co-host Jorge Ramos directly addressing the president’s failure to deliver on his 2008 campaign pledge to push immigration reform during the first year of his term. “I want you to acknowledge that you did not keep your promise,” said Ramos.
Obama confronted Ramos’ comment head on, and said the first year of his term was consumed by efforts to help the economy and stop the country from going into another Great Depression. He also noted the role of Republican political opponents in deterring immigration reform, saying that they prevented many significant immigration measures from getting off the ground.
“I am happy to take responsibility for the fact that we didn’t get it done,” the president said. “But I did not make a promise that I would get everything done 100% when I was elected as president. What I promised was that I would work every single day as hard as I can to make sure that everybody in this country regardless of who they are, what they look like, where they come from, that they would have a fair shot at the American dream. And that promise I’ve kept.”
Asked whether his move this summer to halt deportations of some children of illegal immigrants was politically motivated by a desire to win the Latino vote, Obama said, “I think if you look at the polls, I was winning the Latino vote before that. I did this because I met young people all across the country, wonderful kids who sometimes were valedictorians, were participating in the community, had aspirations to go to college, some were serving in our military. … There’s no way you would think it was fair or just for us to have them suffering under a cloud of deportation,” he said.
When asked by Ramos to identify his biggest failure, Obama offered a quick response, saying, “Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure is that we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done. But it’s not for lack of trying or desire.”