President Obama began the process today of reminding Latino voters which politicians they should regard as "enemies," even though he isn't actually fulfilling the promise he made last time he begged for their votes.
Obama called for Latinos to "punish enemies" and "reward friends" in a desperate attempt to stem the Republican wave in 2010. "If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s going to be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2," the president said in a radio interview just days before the 2010 midterms. "I'm going to keep my promise on immigration reform," Obama also said.
By that time, though, he had already broken his 2008 promise to "make it a top priority in my first year as president." At the very latest, Obama promised immigration reform would pass by the end of his first term, but he squandered his political capital on a health care bill that may be overturned by the Supreme Court in the next two weeks.
Today's announcement that Obama will "defer" deportation of illegal immigrants who meet certain requirements is a significant change in federal policy -- but it's not what he promised when asking for Latino votes in 2008 or 2010.
"The granting of deferred action under this new directive will not provide an individual with permanent lawful status and it will not provide a pathway to obtaining permanent awful status or citizenship," Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said. "This grant of deferred action is not immunity; it is not amnesty."
Instead, it's an exercise of power that Obama has previously said exceeds his authority. But if it starts a fight with Congress, maybe the Latinos will decide that he is a friend, after all.