Washington, Jul 26 (IANS/EFE): US President Barack Obama repeated Monday his commitment to immigration reform because of the pain caused by deportations, but the immigrant community demanded that he take concrete action with a view to the 2012 elections.
Obama Monday gave his first speech as president to the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the leading Hispanic organization in the US, with a decidedly economic focus and in which he stressed his worry about the debt-ceiling crisis and the lack of a way to legalize the undocumented population.
"Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. And believe me, right now dealing with Congress ...," the president said, prompting some in the audience to begin chanting: "Yes, you can! Yes, you can!"
"Believe me - believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you. Not just on immigration reform. But that's not how - that's not how our system works," Obama said.
"I need a dance partner here - and the floor is empty," he said, alluding to Republicans' unwillingness to discuss immigration reform.
Repeatedly interrupted by applause, Obama listed the achievements of his administration and acknowledged that the jobless rate among Hispanics, 11.6 percent, "is painfully high", but insisted that the problems will not be resolved "overnight".
During a press conference, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia said that the president's speech, without any "specific" action to back it up, was not enough to placate Hispanics.
Obama "fell short", she said.
"Our community is disappointed with the results it has seen," Murguia said, referring to deportations, which have increased dramatically under Obama.