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January 30, 2013

Obama confident about immigration, but warns 'I'm not a king'

President Barack Obama continued a media blitz on Spanish language media Wednesday telling the country’s largest Spanish-language network, Univision, that he believes comprehensive immigration reform can be passed by the end of the year or “maybe even before the end of the summer.”

“Si se puede,” Obama said when prompted by Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas, adding. “ “I believe that the mood is right.”

Salinas peppered the president with questions about his plan, deportation policy, and goals. She also echoed the concerns of members of the Latino community questioning whether Obama’s plan includes any relief for immigrants who had recently been deported.

Obama ducked the question saying that he would let the Senators work out those kind of details. He was referring to the bipartisan group of eight senators who are working on legislation that includes a path to citizenship after the borders are secure.

Obama also gave an interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo Wednesday answering many of the same questions, such as whether recently deported immigrants could return. He ducked it then, also.

Salinas cited the thousands of illegal immigrants deported on minor offenses. She quoted the president saying, “This is not about policy. It’s about people.” And she asked him if he’d consider a “moratorium on deportations for non-criminals.”

Obama responded that, as president, he was required to follow the law. “I’m not a king.”

But he added there are things he’s been able to do within the law, such as blocking the deportations of hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents.

“We’re making some changes there,” he said. “But there are still going to be stories that are heartbreaking. With respect to deportations until we get comprehensive immigration reform.”

Obama also denied any potential differences he may have with Republicans like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio regarding prioritizing border security over a path to citizenship.

Obama responded that he has put border security first. He said his administration has beefed up resources toward protecting border and noted that border crossings were lower than they have been in over a decade.

“We have done more on border security in the last four years than we have done in the previous 20,” he said.


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"Planet Washington" covers politics and government. It is written by journalists in McClatchy's Washington Bureau.

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