Obama Univision Interview: President Struggles With Tough Questions about Immigration Reform


President Obama fielded tough questions from Univision anchors Jorge Ramos and Maria Elena Salinas at the University of Miami-Dade Thursday afternoon. The most difficult question came from Ramos, an advocate of immigration reform, who asked the president why he had not kept his promise to pass immigration reform.

During his 2008 campaign, Obama had specifically promised Ramos that he would pass comprehensive immigration reform during his first year in office.

"A promise is a promise, and with all due respect … you didn't keep that promise," Ramos said in English. (The majority of the one-hour interview was conducted in Spanish, with Obama listening to a simultaneous translation via an earpiece.)

Obama replied, "When we talked about immigration reform the first year, that was before the economic collapse." He added that since he failed to get a single Republican to support immigration reform, the bill was never passed. The immigration reform proposal was floated by congressional Democrats in April, 2010.

Salinas pointed out that Obama was the president who had deported the highest number of undocumented residents to date, with more than 5,000 children in foster care because their parents had been deported. She then asked whether Obama had undertaken his recent "deferred action" program to allow a path to citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants merely to gain votes from Latinos. 

"Part of the reasons that deportations went up was Congress put a whole lot of money into it and when you have a lot of resources and a lot more agents involved, then there are going to be higher numbers," Obama responded. He continued to discuss general programs for children and promises of aid to college students for the next 9 minutes.

Obama's most surprising confession?

"I think that I’ve learned some lessons over the last four years, and the most important lesson I’ve learned is that you can’t change Washington from the inside. You can only change it from the outside. That’s how I got elected. And that’s how the big accomplishments like health care got done."

Mitt Romney was also interviewed by Ramos and Salinas for one hour on Wednesday to an enthusiastic and vocal audience. This link is the first non-Spanish-language link to a portion of his interview (candidate speaking in English).