Pressure is building on President Barack Obama to do more for the nation’s Hispanic population if he plans to count on their support in what’s expected to be an extremely close race with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
“People are saying, ‘What gives?’” Clarissa Martínez de Castro, director of immigration issues for the National Council of La Raza, told the New York Times. “Immigration is deeply personal for many of our voters, and there is disillusionment out there.”
According to the Times, many Latinos believe Obama’s immigration policies haven’t produced the results he promised in his 2008 campaign. That concern stems from a recent review showing that illegal immigrants with no records are continuing to be deported right along with those with criminal backgrounds or who have cheated the system in some way, despite a year-old initiative that was supposed to refocus deportation efforts on the worst cases.
Despite his promise to overhaul the immigration system and provide legal status to many illegal immigrants, many also complain that enforcement efforts have actually increased, forcing many immigrants to leave their jobs.
Still, the Times reported Sunday the president has been able to maintain a wide lead over Romney among Hispanics. In a recent Gallup poll, for example, he drew support from 67 percent of those who participated in the survey to Romney’s 26 percent.
But the Times also noted that Obama supporters are warning that many Hispanics may be hard pressed to turn out in the numbers they did in 2008, even though they believe Romney and Republicans would take a harder approach to dealing with immigration issues.
“There is ambivalence about the president, where there really should be none,” Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, told the Times.
Even New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, a leading Democrat on immigration issues, is raising concerns the Obama administration may have dropped the ball on deportations.
“I do believe the administration has the right intention, prioritizing deportations. But these abysmal numbers raise serious questions about whether the Department of Homeland Security is making that vision a reality,” he told the Times, referring to the recent review of deportations.
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