President Barack Obama will address Hispanic leaders Friday, his first speech to a Latino group since he decreed that many young illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children would be exempted from deportation and granted work permits good for two years.
The speech to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Orlando at Disney’s Contemporary Resort comes a day after the group gave a cool reception to Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney and his newly softened stance on immigration.
Obama’s immigration initiative, announced less than five months before the November elections, delighted many in the Latino community and drew renewed attention to the key Hispanic voting bloc and its potential for affecting the presidential election with its turnout and energy. Obama won 67 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008, and aides believe he could do better this time.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people, who for all intents and purposes are Americans,” said Obama. “This is not amnesty; this is not immunity; this is not a path to citizenship.”
While the economy continues to dominate the presidential race, Obama’s team was mindful that anything — including issues like immigration or gay marriage — could shift the balance if the contest, which surveys show is close less than five months before the election.