When President Barack Obama spoke to a major U.S. Hispanic group earlier this week about his unsuccessful efforts to change this country’s outdated immigration rules, many in the crowd broke out in a spontaneous chant: “Yes you can!”
The chant at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza in Washington D.C. on Monday, a mocking reminder of the president’s 2008 campaign slogan, marked a rare moment of confrontation between Obama and his Hispanic constituents. Obama got 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008, and used to get warm welcomes from U.S. Hispanic audiences.
Hispanic leaders are not happy with the Obama administration’s nearly 1 million deportations over the past three years, which they say is more than took place during former President George W. Bush’s eight years in office. And they are not buying the president’s line that he cannot do anything to change immigration rules because of the Republican Party’s hard-line anti-immigrant stands.
According to Hispanic leaders, there are many things the president could do using his executive authority, like granting temporary immigration benefits to good students or army volunteers who were brought to the country when they were children. The Dream Act bill, which would grant a path to legalization to these students, has been blocked by Republicans in the Senate.