Report: At Town Hall, Obama Urges Advocates to Pressure ’16 Candidates on Amnesty, Claims Only GOP Playing Games 

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

During a Wednesday immigration town hall in Miami with MSNBC and Telemundo, President Barack Obama reportedly urged advocates to ask 2016 presidential candidates about immigration to keep the issue front and center. He also reportedly claimed that Republicans were the only ones playing games on immigration even though Senate Democrats united to filibuster a Homeland Security funding bill over Obama’s executive amnesty.

Juan, a “Latino Rebels” editor who attended the event, Tweeted after the taping that Obama “twice” highlighted that “ppl should ask 2016 candidates” about immigration.

Juan also Tweeted that Obama said Republicans were the only ones playing games on immigration even though Democrats did not act on immigration when they controlled both chambers of Congress after Obama was first elected to Congress, arguably to keep the issue alive for Obama’s reelection.

In fact, at a Univision presidential forum in 2012, Jorge Ramos ripped Obama, scolding him for not keeping his promise to the Latino community on immigration reform. Ramos told Obama, “A promise is a promise.”

“And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise,” the undaunted anchor told Obama, questioning the President a lot tougher than others in the mainstream press.

Democrats and Hispanic groups are in overdrive trying to make immigration an issue in 2016, especially since minority voters who turned out in droves for Obama will have to be galvanized without Obama at the top of the ticket. There is no guarantee, though, that making amnesty a top issue in 2016 will be a winning strategy when a majority of the country, according to Gallup, is dissatisfied with the country’s immigration levels and only seven percent want more immigration.

In 2014, Republicans won back control of Congress because the electorate was opposed to Obama’s executive amnesty. And Latino turnout in 2014 was worse than in 2012 and 2010, according to internal DNC documents that BuzzFeed obtained. The DNC’s own autopsy report of the midterm elections, though making no mention of the impact of Obama’s executive amnesty in which an overwhelming majority of the midterm electorate opposed, conceded that the party must win back white voters, especially Southern whites. The Washington Post and the New York Times have both indicated that the Hispanic vote may be overrated in presidential elections. The Times even declared that Republicans have a path to the White House in 2016 and beyond without a massive increase in the Hispanic vote if the party gets more working-class white voters.

National Hispanic groups, though, are intent on making amnesty a huge issue in 2016. Top Hispanic organizations have reportedly vowed to raise up to a million dollars to help Iowa Hispanics organize and question 2016 candidates who come to the state that holds the first-in-the-nation nominating caucuses about amnesty issues. DREAMers have already crashed an Iowa Freedom Summit event to badger Republicans about immigration issues.

Before the town hall, Obama met with some of the top pro-amnesty leaders in a closed-door meeting at the White House to discuss the administration’s next steps in the executive amnesty battle. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) later revealed that the Obama administration is considering whether it has the legal authority to launch its executive amnesty program in the 24 states that did not join the lawsuit against it. After U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued his injunction last week, Gutierrez said there would be an unprecedented “militancy” that would be activated among Latinos to push them to the polls against candidates who oppose executive amnesty. La Raza President Janet Murguia said Hispanics would increase their activism and vote against politicians who stood against “our community” on Obama’s executive amnesty.

MSNBC will air the town hall, which Jose Diaz-Balart hosted, at 8 PM EST. Telemundo will air the broadcast at 7 PM EST.