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The political issue Republicans would like to see go away won’t anytime soon, with the Supreme Court set to rule on the tough, GOP-backed Arizona immigration law this week and President Barack Obama focusing on pressing his advantage with Hispanic voters.
Obama and Mitt Romney sparred last week during speeches to Latino elected officials in Florida. But the presumptive Republican presidential nominee continued to struggle to respond to the president’s executive action to end the threat of deportations for young illegal immigrants.
And Democrats believe the Arizona decision will put Romney in another tough spot as he continues to get pulled between the demands of his base for a hard line against illegal immigration and his attempts to appeal to Hispanic voters, who will play a significant role in the election.
Regardless of how the court rules, the issue will ramp up the spotlight on illegal immigration. The case also gives Democrats a chance to highlight the importance of court appointments — and remind Hispanic voters that Obama appointed the first Latina justice, Sonia Sotomayor. If the court upholds the law, Obama could benefit from a backlash among Hispanic voters against a harsh crackdown in Arizona and other states. And if the court strikes it down, Obama can take credit for suing the state to stop it.
On Friday, Obama continued to attack Romney on the subject, delivering an emotional, personal call for immigration reform a day after Romney sought to keep the focus on the struggling economy and the unemployment rate while accusing Obama of failing to keep his commitments to Hispanics.
Obama ripped Romney for vowing to veto the DREAM Act and cast his push for immigration reform in sweeping terms that he tied to his own story as the son of an immigrant. He said his administration has been doing what it can on immigration in the absence of any action in Congress.
And he ripped Republicans for filibustering the DREAM Act in December 2010 even though the bill had originally been written in part by Republicans.
“The bill hadn’t changed, the need hadn’t changed, the only thing that changed was politics,” Obama said.
The DREAM Act would provide a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who came to the United States before the age of 16, have been in the country for five years, are younger than 30 and go to college or join the military. Obama’s order merely defers action for renewable two-year periods, during which eligible people could work.
Obama cited his decision to unilaterally end the threat of deportation for an estimated 800,000 young immigrants brought here as children.