Despite being the President who has deported the most illegal aliens in history–a policy hugely unpopular with Hispanics–Barack Obama is the strong preference among Hispanics in the 2012 election. They may not be overly enthusiastic about Obama but they aren’t running to Mitt Romney yet either. however, despite Barack Obama’s statements to the contrary, he has not always supported comprehensive immigration reform. In fact, he worked vigorously to kill it in 2007. Bill McGurn in the Wall Street Journal recounts how Obama injected himself into the 2007 legislative sausage making and jumped on a “poison pill” amendment that killed immigration reform:
The short story is that the immigration bill was the work of a small, bipartisan group of senators. Late in the game, Mr. Obama joined the process, where he asked for (and received) changes in the bill. Yet when the legislation moved forward, Mr. Obama backed a series of poison-pill amendments. One was pushed by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D., N.D.) to weaken the guest-worker program. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D., Mass.) was outraged because he knew this amendment was really organized labor’s effort to kill the immigration bill, not to help workers. “Who is the senator from North Dakota trying to fool?” Mr. Kennedy snapped from the Senate floor.
Mr. Obama voted “yea” on the Dorgan amendment. We know he knew it was a deal-killer because several senators had said so (Sen. Jim DeMint, who had voted “nay” on an earlier version, switched his vote for precisely that reason). Thus Mr. Obama pulled off a trifecta: appeasing Big Labor while telling Latinos he supported the bill and blaming Republicans for its failure…What makes Mr. Obama’s 2007 Senate vote so galling—and different from that of others who voted the same way—was that his support for the poison pills betrayed the bipartisan group of senators who had let him in on the writing of the bill.
By no means was the death of immigration reform done at the hands of only the then-Senator from Illinois. But he was a principal in the unraveling of the most successful effort to that point. Having not lifted a finger on behalf of Hispanics since entering the White House while achieving record-breaking deportations, Hispanics have a lot to think about in November before backing the immigration reform killer again.