ORLANDO, Fla. - President Obama received a rousing applause while defending his record in immigration to 1,000 Latino politicians in Orlando Friday.
One week ago, the president announced an executive order stopping the deportation of some 800,000 people brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The president said he made the move after Congressional Republicans blocked the Dream Act.
"I refused to keep looking young people in the eye, deserving young people in the eye and tell them tough luck," Obama said at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Conference. "There will always be plenty of stubborn opposition in the way that says 'no we can't, no you shouldn't, don't even try.' But America was built by people who said 'yes we can, si se puede.'"
But the president has his critics. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney told the same group on Thursday that the president could have passed long-term reform during his first two years in office when Democrats controlled Congress. Friday morning, Senator Marco Rubio agreed.
"What a coincidence it's an election year," Rubio said. "I was tempted to tell you why he didn't make this issue a priority… well I guess I just did tell you."
Rubio said as long as immigration is a "political ping-pong that each side uses to win elections and influence voters, I'm telling you it won't get solved."
Both Obama and Romney told the group they would fight for long-term immigration reform saying paths to legal status for members of the military and college graduates are needed. That, however, is a shift from Romney's tougher rhetoric during the primaries—something the president pointed out.
"In his speech, he said that when he makes a promise to you, he'll keep it. Well he has promised to veto the Dream Act and we should take him at his word," Obama said.
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