Click image to see more photos. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
President Barack Obama hosted a Cinco de Mayo party at the White House—"even though it's only 'tres de Mayo,' we just like to get the fiesta started early around here"—and promised to push for a comprehensive overhaul of America's immigration policies if he's re-elected.
"There's still plenty of unfinished business, including fixing our broken immigration system," he said. "It's long past the time that we unleash the promise of all our young people and make the DREAM Act a reality."
Mitt Romney has vowed to veto the legislation, which would allow some undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to stay on American soil legally, provided they have a clean record and graduate from high school or serve in the military. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has also pushed a version of the measure that would provide temporary, nonimmigrant visas.
"No is not an option—I want to sign the DREAM Act into law!" Obama said. "I've got the pens all ready, I'm willing to work with anybody who's serious to get this done, and to achieve bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform that solves this challenge once and for all."
The issue has heavy electoral resonance: Latinos are the fastest-growing voting population, and many experts predict they will play a big role in a handful of critical battleground states in November. Obama easily leads Romney among Latinos, according to recent polls. But Republicans say they have not given up the fight."A lot of you remember: Over a year ago, we brought the DREAM Act to a vote in Congress thanks to the hard work of many of you, and it passed the House, [got] the majority of votes in the Senate," Obama said. "Unfortunately, we had some on the other side of the aisle that got together and blocked it, but we didn't come this far just to let partisan politics stand in our way. So we're going to keep fighting for this common-sense reform. Ultimately, America depends on it."
Obama noted that there are more than 50 million Americans of Latino descent, and praised them for "driving America forward."
"For our part, we know that securing our future depends on making sure that all Americans have the opportunity to reach their potential," the president said.
"And that's why we've worked hard over the last three and a half years to create jobs, to make sure you get the care you need when you get sick, to make college affordable for everybody, to ensure that no matter where you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is—even if it's Obama—you can make it if you try."
"These are victories for Latinos, but they're more importantly victories for America," Obama said.
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