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Obama Renews Call for Immigration Reform, Still Without a Timetable

Obama promised immigration reform in 2008, and immigrants rights advocates have not forgotten that he broke his promise. The president attempted to play damage control yesterday at a dinner for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, blaming Republicans for the lack of reform legislation.

“Now, I know that many of you campaigned hard for me, and understandably you’re frustrated that we have not been able to move this over the finish line yet,” he said. “I am too.”

He said he will continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform and pledged his support for the DREAM Act, a bill to help some undocumented young people gain legal status, which will be added to a defense authorization bill next week.

The administration has been vague on its timetable for pushing immigration reform. “This is in the hands of the Congress, and they will need to address this in a bipartisan way,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said in August. “The timetable question should be addressed to them.”

It’s a fair point, of course — Obama can’t force Congress to pass legislation. But the White House could also put more pressure on Congress to focus on immigration-related issues.

Either way, it could have major implications for Democrat success among Latino voters this fall, and in the future, according to a July report. Latino voters want to see comprehensive immigration reform, and some said they would stay home from the polls in November if it doesn’t happen this year.

“You have every right to keep the heat on me and the Democrats, and I hope you do. That’s how our political process works,” Obama said last night. “But don’t forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you. Don’t ever believe that this election coming up doesn’t matter.”

Obama will meet with Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) today to discuss the DREAM Act and a comprehensive immigration reform bill Menendez plans to unveil in the Senate.

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