President Obama gave an interview to Univision, a Spanish language broadcaster on Wednesday 19th September 2012 and said 'my biggest failure so far is we haven't gotten comprehensive immigration reform done.' However, he said that his failure was largely caused by the Republicans in Congress; particularly the 20 Congressmen who were on the record as supporters of reform but who had refused to cooperate with Democrats to change the law.
Mr Obama made a commitment to reform the immigration system in 2008 when he was the Democratic candidate for the presidency. Jorge Ramos, the Univision news presenter, said 'At the beginning of your government you had control of both chambers of Congress and yet you did not introduce immigration reform.'
The President replied that, in his first year as President, he had concentrated purely on the economy. He added that he had been unable to persuade any Republicans to support his government's plans for immigration reform. He admitted that he had found it difficult to get legislation passed through Congress and expressed frustration with the US Congress, which is described by commentators as 'gridlocked'.
The two main parties in Congress, the Democrats and the Republicans, are evenly balanced in both houses of Congress; The House of Representatives and The Senate. Since elections were held in 2010, the Republicans have a small majority in the House of Representatives, while the Democrats retain a small majority in the Senate. In both chambers, the numbers of Democrats and Republicans are fairly evenly balanced but the DREAM Act would need to gain majorities in both houses in order to become law. Therefore, without bipartisan support, it will be very difficult for the proposed Act to become law. Commentators say that political divisions in America are becoming more entrenched and Congressmen are less and less willing to work with their opponents to pass compromise legislation that contains elements that please both parties. President Obama says that Republicans
Many Americans feel a growing frustration with 'Washington'. President Obama told Mr Ramos 'you can't change Washington from the inside. You can only change Washington from the outside. That's how the big accomplishments got done, because we mobilised the American people to speak out.'
The Republican candidate for the upcoming presidential election, Mitt Romney, jumped on President Obama's words yesterday and said they were an admission of defeat. 'The President threw up the white flag of surrender again,' he said; 'His slogan was 'Yes we can'. His slogan now is 'No we can't'.'
Immigration has become a major area of difference between Democrats and Republicans in the election, which will be held on November 6th 2012. The President has again committed himself to reforming the system in the first year of his second term. Mr Romney told an audience of Hispanic businessmen in Los Angeles last week that he wants to see reform too.
Mr Romney supports states like Arizona that have taken a hard line on illegal immigration. He has said he supports the deportation of illegal immigrants. He says the US must 'regain control of our borders'. He has accused President Obama of making reforms to the immigration system in order to win votes from Hispanic voters.
The President supports 'The DREAM Act' which would grant permanent residency to many illegal immigrants who came to the US as children. Mr Romney has said that, if he becomes President, he will veto the DREAM Act if Congress passes it.
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