Obama: Immigration Reform Casualty of Lengthy Health Care Debate

Posted September 13, 2010 at 3:26pm

President Barack Obama is blaming Republicans for the lack of movement on comprehensive immigration reform this year, saying the GOP forced such a lengthy debate on health care legislation that there was little time left over to tackle another sweeping issue.

“Obviously the fact that they were able to drag out the health care reform debate for months when it really was one that should have only taken three or four months, maybe six months, but not as long as it took, that ended up using a lot of time and energy,” Obama said in a recent interview with La Opinión.

Obama, who said he remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform, also took a shot at the Latino press, complaining that it perpetuated the perception that he could have forced a bill through Congress without bipartisan support.

“I know that within the Latino press, at least, there’s been this constant commentary, ‘Well, he had 60 votes for health care, why couldn’t he get 60 votes for immigration reform?’ And I just want to remind everybody, actually after [GOP Sen.] Scott Brown won in Massachusetts, I only had 59 votes. I didn’t have 60,” Obama said.

“There is a unrealistic notion of what I can get done by myself. The thinking seems to be that if I make a speech and if I am absolutely persuaded — or persuasive, that somehow the Republican leadership in the Senate is going to change their mind … and that’s just not how things work,” he added.

Obama acknowledged that his support among Hispanics has slipped, blaming the economy and the Latino press’s focus on immigration reform.

However, Obama argued that Democrats have passed an agenda that aids the community. “The problem is, frankly, if I’m a Latino consumer of the news, all I’m hearing about is we haven’t gotten immigration reform done, and the economy is bad. And so, understandably, people start thinking, well, maybe this President is not focused on me — when, in fact, we’ve done so many things that have really made a difference already in people’s lives,” Obama said.