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WASHINGTON (AP) — With frustration mounting, President Barack Obama sought Thursday to quell doubts he’ll use his presidential powers to act on immigration, telling Hispanics and immigration activists it’s “not a question of if but when.”

At the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s annual gala, Obama warned activists that his eventual actions will spark intense political opposition that could threaten the durability of what he does. In a partisan pitch a month before Election Day, he urged Hispanics across the U.S. to use their votes to improve prospects in the future for a legislative fix.

“The moment I act — and it will be taking place between the November election and the end of the year — opponents of reform will roll out the same old scare tactics,” Obama said. “When opponents are out there saying who knows what, I’m going to need you to have my back.”

Once hailed as a champion for Hispanic rights, Obama’s relationship with the Hispanic community has become strained since he decided last month to abandon his earlier pledge to act quickly after summer’s end to help some immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally. Instead, he said he’d wait until after the Nov. 4 elections, exasperating immigration activists who accused the president of putting politics ahead of their families and said they had waited far too long already.

With the elections nearing, Obama sought to parlay impatience into motivation for Hispanic voters to elect politicians who will enact more sweeping reforms to fix the U.S. immigration system. Arguing that no executive action on immigration could be as comprehensive as what Congress could do, he urged Hispanics at the black-tie dinner to go into their communities to ensure voters don’t stay home.

“Yes we can — if we vote,” he said, first in Spanish and then in English, in a twist on his 2008 campaign slogan.

The White House has been coy about what unilateral actions Obama and his administration are considering, and legal experts differ about just how far Obama can go without Congress. Immigration activists are calling for Obama to act aggressively to free a sizeable portion of the 11.5 million immigrants here illegally from fear of deportation.

Such a possibility has incensed Republicans who say Obama’s willingness to ignore existing laws is the key reason they’re reluctant to work with him to pass new ones.

“The president’s promise isn’t about making the best policy or enforcing the law — it’s an admission that his pledge to not uphold the law in the future would be bad for his party now,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

A supportive crowd offered the president a mostly warm reception, although he was briefly interrupted by a heckler who objected to deportations on Obama’s watch and was escorted out of the hall. Outside the convention center, a group of demonstrators gathered in protest of Obama’s delay.

And at the podium, Obama was gently nudged by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., who said Hispanics were looking to Obama “for big, bold, unapologetic” relief without delay.

“We need major reforms, we need them now,” he said, “and Mr. President, we need your help.”

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6 thoughts on “Obama Vows Immigration Reform At Hispanic Caucus Gala

  1. Mr. Wright on said:

    I wish their was a way to stop him. This will not end well for us. I am not against immigration or do I have anything against hispanics. But the way this is being handled is reckless.

  2. I said it. on said:

    Vote issues, not parties. No one forces us to fall for bull in either part. If the Republicans would stop being racist (they won’t) they would get more black votes.

    • Perkins on said:

      Iagree with you on we should vote on issues not the party. However you called the republicans racist. Can you give an example. I have heard democrates say they are racist all the time but that is more of a fear tactic to keep you from looking at all sides of issues. I am not supporting the republicans here I just want to see think more of what we are told verses the truth. I personally havn’t seen them do anything racist.

      • I said it. on said:

        Their avid support of the tea party would be one looming example. The comments made by trolls who go to sites that are predominantly black, and sites that are not are mostly racist. FOX News would be another example. Have you listened to them?

  3. Dangerous BlkMan on said:

    This makes me livid!!!! He wants to make all these illegals citizens. It’s obvious he wants the votes to keep democrats in office. The problem I see is this. Hispanics are the fastest growing population in the US. Where I live and everything I see on the news of other places Hispanics hate blacks. Where I live the whites hide where they can but the Hispanics openly attack us as they try to take over our neibhorhoods. When the Hispanics get more political power will they treat us with respect. no! Say goodbye to the democrate party. Say hello to the la raza de political party. And blacks get screwed again.

  4. Vote yes for another massive run on the boarder overwhelming immigration health screenings to a point of no screenings at all, just send them all over the country
    Enterovirus EV-D68 you wonder where it came from

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