‘La Promesa de Obama’: The President says he won’t back off on Immigration Reform

Sep 21, 2009 7:56am

ABC News' Viviana Hurtado reports:

The President acknowledged an overhaul to the immigration system will be tough, but that it's going to get done. Speaking on Univision's "Al Punto con Jorge Ramos", Mr. Obama referred to the so-called "Promesa de Obama," or the promise that candidate Obama made to Latinos that he would get immigration reform passed within his first year of office. He said that he has been laying down the groundwork which includes meeting with Congressional Democratic and Republican leadership, as well as the Hispanic caucus. "Now, whether that bill gets introduced on November 15th or December 15th or January 15th, that's not really the issue. I mean, it would be easy for us to get a bill introduced. The challenge is getting the bill passed. And there I've been realistic. What I said is that this is going to be a tough fight and that we're going to have to make sure that we are working as hard as we can to do it. I am not backing off one minute from getting this done, but let's face it, I've had a few things to do," said President Obama.

Those "few" things include navigating the financial crisis and getting health care reform legislation back on track after opposition almost derailed this effort during the summer.

The President continued: "Health care has taken longer than I would have liked, but it's a big, tough issue. Immigration reform is gonna be tough as well, but I think we can get it done."

Will Latino voters give the President some latitude? "Al Punto" host and "Noticiero Univision" co-anchor Jorge Ramos told ABC News that Hispanics need the President, "The only hope for twelve million undocumented workers is Barack Obama." But Mr. Ramos pointed to the importance of this growing sector of the electorate that some political analysts call a building block of the 2008 and future elections. "Latinos expect him to keep his promise," said Mr. Ramos.

With the exception of "Fox News Sunday", Mr. Obama appeared Sunday on five public affairs television programs, including ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulus." This is an historic feat because of the number of appearances and, for the first time, a U.S. President was on a Spanish language Sunday news show (President Obama has appeared on Univision's evening newscast three times, and on NBC's Telemundo). "This Week" host and chief White House correspondent George Stephanopoulus called the White House move to include Univision in this interview rotation "shrewd strategy" because it reaches Hispanics where many get their news: "The White House is determined to get their message out in as many different ways as possible, while showing Latinos he respects and cares about them," says George.

In addition to immigration reform, on "Al Punto" President Obama rejected that racism is behind the opposition to his proposed overhaul to the health care system. He repeated that undocumented workers would be prohibited from buying coverage on an insurance exchange. He also addressed Sunday's Colombian rock star Juanes concert in Havana, and U.S. relations with Cuba and Honduras.


Jorge Ramos told ABC News he learned something new about the President: he's a big fan of soccer. Says this Univision evening anchor, "The President revealed he's been following the U.S. team that's trying to qualify for the World Cup. If they make it, the President said he wants to go to So. Africa."

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