If President Obama amassed any goodwill from his recent outreach to the Hispanic community, he may have just cancelled it all out by skipping out on a major conference of prominent Hispanic leaders for the third year in a row, Politico reports:
Leaders of a national Hispanic organization are criticizing President Barack Obama for skipping their annual conference for the third consecutive year after he promised as a candidate in 2008 that he would return as president.
Some members of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials [NALEO] also are questioning Obama’s commitment to immigration reform, noting that deportations have increased under his watch — even as the administration intensifies its outreach for Hispanic votes.
Obama’s decision to avoid the conference may seem puzzling at first, but Rep. Luis Gutierrez offers a logical explanation:
“In front of a group like NALEO, blaming Republicans for their intransigence on immigration reform and not addressing what the president’s own administration is doing to immigrants would not wash,” said Gutierrez, who traveled with Obama to the 2008 NALEO conference. “So it isn’t surprising to me that the president is not showing up.”
Since Obama’s entire immigration argument rests on demonizing Republicans while refusing to acknowledge the lack of Democratic progress on the issue, it makes sense that he’d skip out on the meeting.
Another reason may be because of the unfulfilled promises that Obama made during his last address to the conference, when he was still a presidential candidate:
“We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens,” Obama told NALEO in 2008. “That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day.”
Obama never followed through on this pledge after taking office. But you can be sure that the roomful of Hispanic leaders at the NALEO conference haven’t forgotten – and probably wouldn’t be shy about giving the president a reminder.