On Thursday, President Barack Obama spoke at a forum for Univision News and said that he failed to pass immigration reform as he promised. The president blamed his failure on the economy’s troubles, putting immigration reform on the backburner.
“When we talked about immigration reform in the first year, that was before the economy was on the verge of collapse,” he said at University of Miami. “Lehman Brothers had collapsed, the stock market was collapsing. So my first priority was making sure we didn’t fall into a depression.”
The forum was anchored by Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas. When Obama was asked about his biggest failure during his first four years in office he said, “Jorge, as you remind me, my biggest failure so far is we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done yet.” Obama also placed some of the immigration reform blame on Republicans in Congress, singling out Senator John McCain from Arizona.
“What I confess I did not expect, and so I’m happy to take responsibility for being naive here, is that Republicans who had previously supported comprehensive immigration reform — my opponent in 2008, who had been a champion of it and who attended these meeting — suddenly would walk away,” he said. “That’s what I did not anticipate.”
Ramos was not happy with the answers from the president.
“I don’t want it to get lost in translation,” Ramos said. “You promised. And a promise is a promise. With all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.”
Obama, although he took responsibility for the failure, also denied that he promised a reform.
“I didn’t make a promise that I would get everything done 100 percent when I was elected as president,” Obama said. “What I promised was that I would work every single day, as hard as I can, to make sure that everyone 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. That promise I’ve kept.”
The co-hosts of the forum also asked Obama about his record for deportation. Obama and his administration have deported more people per year from the United States than any other administration in the country’s history.
“The candidate sitting here with you today is committed to comprehensive immigration reform, is committed to the Dream Act, has taken administrative action to prevent young people from being deported,” Obama said. “That stands in contrast with the other candidate, who has said he would veto the Dream Act, he is uncertain about what his plan for immigration reform would be, and who considers the Arizona law a model for the nation and has suggested that the main solution for immigration is self-deportation.”