President Barack Obama was interviewed by Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo last week in Los Angeles for a Univision radio program that aired Monday.
Sotelo asked the president to focus on immigration. When the Spanish-language radio giant suggested that the Obama administration was more dedicated to fixing issues like healthcare than immigration, the president disagreed.
“My cabinet has been working very hard on trying to get it done, but ultimately, I think somebody said the other day, I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself. We have a system of government that requires the Congress to work with the executive branch to make it happen. I’m committed to making it happen, but I’ve gotta have some partners to do it,” Obama said.
From the transcript:
Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo (EPS): Many Hispanics feel disappointed with you because comprehensive immigration reform has not been passed. What can you tell them?
President Barack Obama (POTUS): Well, I’m disappointed, too. As you heard in the introduction, this is something that I’ve been committed to for many years. I committed to it when I was a U.S. Senator, I committed to it when I was a state senator. It’s something that I deeply believe that we’ve got to solve our immigration problem so that we’re both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws so that people can come out of the shadows, that people who are productive and otherwise law-abiding are able to get on a pathway to citizenship. They pay a fine, pay back taxes, learn English, become part of this beautiful American community of ours. And the fact that we have not got it done is something that frustrates me and I know that it frustrates many people in the community. But I think it’s important for people to understand why it hasn’t gotten done. In the United States Senate, over the last two years, many Republicans who used to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform, like John McCain, decided not to support it and in the Senate, you’ve got a rule that says 50 votes is not enough. That you can’t just pass a law with 50 or 51 votes, you have to have a super majority of 60 votes. We have the majority of Democrats supporting us, so I could easily get 50 votes, Democratic votes, but I’d need some help from our Republican friends. And what happened was we still have 11 Republicans in the United States Senate who voted for Comprehensive Immigration Reform four years ago, but now are not willing to step up. And so the problem that we have is, is that until I can get some cooperation from the other side, then people who are anti-immigration reform can continue to block it. And that’s why this election coming up is so important because we essentially have to say that those who are politicizing the issue, who are supportive of the Arizona law, who talk only about border security but aren’t willing to talk about the other aspects of this, who don’t support the Dream Act, who are out there engaging in rhetoric that is divisive and damaging that — those aren’t the kinds of folks who represent our core American values.
EPS: When is [amnesty] going to happen?
POTUS: Well, here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna see how well we do in this election and I think a lot of it is gonna depend on whether we still have some support not only from Democrats, but also Republicans, but they’re gonna be paying attention to this election. And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.