Immigration reform from Obama? Next term, insists the president

US President Barack Obama speaks from the Rose Garden of the White House April 17, 2012 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialovski)
Election Day is around the corner, and that means that candidates are fishing more and more for support. Now President Barack Obama and his presumed Republican challenger Mitt Romney are tackling the topic of immigration.

To many their answers for many are too few, too late.

President Obama attempted to reach out to Spanish-speaking voters in a recent interview with the Univision network’s Al Punto program. During the sit-down, the commander-in-chief addressed the importance of handling the United States’ immigration issue.

“I can promise that I will try to do it in the first year of my second term. I want to try this year,” explained Obama. For those who were around four years ago, however, the president’s promise sounds familiar — an almost verbatim repeat of his last campaign.

In a 2008 interview with ABC News, then-Senator Obama pleaded, "I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have – in the first year – an immigration bill that I strongly support, and that I'm promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible."

Just as quickly? The same could be said about his promise on the campaign trail to close the United States’ military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The president signed Executive Order 13492 vowing to suspend proceedings at Gitmo in his first week in office. Instead, he not only left the prison open but also authorized American citizens to be prosecuted and sent to similar facilities on allegations of terrorism.

Those aren’t the only promises since broken by President Obama, but it’s no secret that political pandering goes hand-in-hand with running for office. As immigration issues becomes a hotbed topic across the country — especially in America’s south — many worry that promises made are empty and simply meant lure them to the voting booth.

While Obama is passing the blame on failed immigration reform to Republicans, the commander-in-chief isn’t quite off the hook just yet. “What’s missing,” explains pro-immigration group America’s Voice Director Frank Sharry, “is an acknowledgement that his administration has deported many of the people who would have been legalized by the kind of comprehensive reform he promised to fight for.”

“And while the Obama Administration has announced enlightened new policy guidelines to better prioritize deportations, local immigration officers seem to ignore them with impunity,” Sharry adds to the San Francisco Chronicle. What don’t they acknowledge? The fact that the current White House has sent more than 1 million immigrants out of the county since Obama was elected to his first term.

Is the answer a Republican Party president? Mitt Romney seems to think so, and current polling suggests that the former Massachusetts governor will take the GOP’s nomination at their upcoming convention.

Earlier this year, Romney explained that his answer to the illegal immigrant issue could be found in those immigrants themselves. Speaking at a televised GOP debate in January, Romney said that “self-deportation” would be the key to kicking out those who don’t belong while still being sensitive to their desires for citizenship.

“The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can’t find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here,” Romney said. “We’re not going to round them up.”

At the time, Republican Party rival Newt Gingrich was quick to fire back, telling Univision that “You have to live in a world of Swiss bank accounts and Cayman Island accounts and automatic $20 million income for no work to have some fantasy this far from reality.”

“For Romney to believe that somebody’s grandmother is going to be so cut off that she is going to self-deport, I mean this is an Obama-level fantasy.”

Now only four months after Romney’s self-deportation idea was ridiculed by the rest of his party, the candidate is once again trying to come up with an answer that might garner votes from some of the more conservative Latinos weary of another broken promise from President Obama. MSNBC reported that, over the weekend in Florida, Romney told a room of supporters, “We have to get Hispanic voters to vote for our party,” and cautioned that Obama’s recent positive polling “spells doom” for the GOP.

“Romney said the GOP must offer its own policies to woo Hispanics, including a ‘Republican DREAM Act,’ referring to the legislative proposal favored by Democrats that would offer illegal immigrants a limited path to citizenship, to give Hispanic voters a real choice between parties,” MSNBC reported.

So the cat is out of the bag regarding Republicans reaching in every which direction for support to usurp President Obama, but the current commander-in-chief has since offered his own explanation for his opponents’ game plan.

"We now have a Republican nominee who said that the Arizona laws are a model for the country," Obama told Univision over the weekend. "These are laws that potentially would allow someone to be stopped and picked up and asked where their citizenship papers are based on an assumption," the president added in the sit-down interview recorded in Colombia.

Those immigration laws in states like Arizona and Alabama were also approved under Obama’s watch, however. "President Obama only talks about immigration reform when he's seeking votes," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul tells the Associated Press. "Then-candidate Obama promised to tackle immigration reform in his first year. More than three years into his term, America is still waiting for his immigration plan."

MSNC went on to report that “Romney nonetheless predicted that, by November, the economy would trump immigration as a driving issue for Hispanic voters.”

So will immigration just be another flash in the pan issue to pry for votes until Election Day calls for more desperate measures? Regardless of how serious the candidates come off as being, voters are likely to be a little less quick to endorse either Obama or Romney given yet another issue they’ve endlessly flip-flopped on.