Michelle Obama: Keep immigrant families together
The First Lady was pressed about President Obama’s immigration policies.
First Lady Michelle Obama appeared on Univision this weekend to defend her husband’s work on immigration reform, specifically on the issue of deportations.
A record number of undocumented immigrants have been deported during President Obama’s first term and immigrant and Latino advocates have consistently expressed concern that families have been separated by his deportation policies. Univision news anchor Maria Elena Salinas asked the First Lady what she would say to mothers who have been separated from their children as a result of deportations.
“There is nothing more critical than keeping families together and that is why Barack has been fighting so hard for comprehensive immigration reform,” she said in the interview, which aired on Aquí y Ahora and Al Punto. “For the shear fact that we cannot continue to let families be broken apart. That is at the heart of the success of any community.”
Obama has a wide lead over his GOP rival Mitt Romney among Latino voters, but concern over deportations has appeared to dampen enthusiasm for Obama among Latinos, a crucial segment of the electorate he’ll need to win reelection in November. In a Dec. 2011 Pew Hispanic Center poll, nearly six in ten Latinos said they disagreed with the president’s policies, which have ramped up deportations to a record-level annual average of 400,000 since 2009.
But the president announced in June that his administration would act to halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants who are seeking a college education or military service; individuals who would be eligible for relief under the long-stalled DREAM Act. A poll of Latino voters showed that the president saw a boost in support following the announcement.
Salinas asked the First Lady why the president couldn’t have halted deportations of parents of U.S. born children in addition to youth themselves.
“It’s a complicated issue,” she responded. ‘The bottom line is that this country needs comprehensive immigration reform. You can’t piecemeal it together. And that’s what this president is fighting for but he also needs a congress that’s going to come to the table.”
The First Lady added that immigration reform legislation will “be one of my husband’s top priorities and it’s essential.”
Michelle Obama recently appeared in Florida to campaign for her husband and also attended a meeting of a group of Latina mothers. Polls consistently show that the First Lady is more popular than the president and Salinas asked Obama whether she would ever consider a run for elected office herself.
“People ask me that all the time but truly I have no interest in politics, never have and I think that that’s something that women… you know all of us should understand, have, we have to have our own passions,” she said. “For me, I know I will always be involved in some way, shape or form in public service and giving back.”
(Photo: Flickr, Barack Obama)