Huffpost Latino Voices

WATCH: President Obama Addresses Questions From Latino Voters (VIDEO)

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LATINOS OBAMA
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In attempts to connect with Latino voters, President Barack Obama sat down with Latino news outlets including HuffPost LatinoVoices for a roundtable interview on Wednesday morning. With recent polls indicating his decreasing approval ratings amongst Latinos, Obama fielded questions on topics such as immigration reform, Mexico’s drug cartel violence, and Puerto Rico’s independence.

When asked by LatinoVoices Senior Editor Gabriel Lerner about Sheriff Arpaio’s approach to immigration enforcement in Maricopa County, Obama said he wouldn’t speak specifically about the case. He did, however, condemn Arizona’s approach to immigration reform, citing the immigration bill SB1070. Arizona’s treatment of immigration, he said, “has not always been productive."

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Obama also said that he favors a “comprehensive approach” to immigration reform, which includes a prioritization of criminals in deportation proceedings over non-criminals and students. He emphasized that in order to change laws he needs the support of Republicans in congress -- something which he said he is not currently receiving.

"This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true,” President Obama said.

Obama cited Republicans like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan for their leadership on immigration reform, and said that America must “push Republicans back to where they were a few years ago."

When asked a question regarding Puerto Rican independence, Obama said that this was a question to be answered by the Puerto Rican people before congress acts.

“I think that the key here is that the status of Puerto Rico should be decided by the residents of Puerto Rico,” he said. He added that if there was strong consensus amongst the Puerto Rican people, Congress would likely take that to heart in their decision.

In regards to a question about Mexico’s drug-related violence, Obama said the United States had to be a more effective partner in both reducing the demand for drugs in the United States and stopping the flow of weapons and cash to Mexico.

In response to a question from HuffPost LatinoVoices during the roundtable, Obama said he was ‘absolutely certain’ there would be a Latino candidate for President during his lifetime.

“Just look at the demographics,” he said. “With numbers comes political power,” he added.

VIEW THE LIVE BLOG WHICH TOOK PLACE DURING THE LIVE ROUNDTABLE WEBCAST:

live blog

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@ JessLMorales : I'm sure many #Latism folks will criticize the President, but I thought that his answers were real- they were thoughtful and respectful.

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@ carlosodio : RT @JessLMorales: It's time for more Latino candidates, period. #Latism #preguntaObama // Amen

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@ NataschaOS : A definite yes! RT @ergeekgoddess: Q. Is it time for a Latino Vice-President? #latism #preguntaObama

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@ julito77 : #AskObama Failed in Discussiong PRIcan Status Question: The US will not act on PRico until a "clear message" comes from the island. Typical.

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@ FelipeEstefan : On #PuertoRico @BarackObama says "the status of Puerto Rico should be decided by the residents of Puerto Rico" #AskObama

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Question: The cost of living is going up. When are you doing to give us a stimulus on our social security checks?

Obama: "The way social security is set up, the adjustment is made automatically but over the last two years, because of the recession, it hasn't happened. We tried to provide an extra check to those receiving social security checks to make up for the loss but it didn't pass through congress."

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@ TheNewsTaco : we have to be a more effective partner in reducing demand for drugs & stemming flow of weapons, cash that facilitates cartels #preguntaobama

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@ liligil : #askobama “With numbers come political power” said Obama addressing #latinos at the roundtable @beinglatino @foxnewslatino @marieladabbah

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Obama says, that are a million young people are being covered through their parents insurance. By 2013, we are going to be having exchanges where everyone that doesn't have health insurance will have access to the insurance that members of congress get, if they can't afford it, then there will be subsidies. The rates of diabetes are way too high. Preventive care will reduce our costs of health care, Obama says

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My hope is that in 2012 and 2016, we see the participation rate go up. if you are voting at a low rate, then you are giving up some of your power, Obama says. The political system responds to seniors than young people, because they vote at higher rates. The same is true for Latinos.

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Obama says, there is a program called 'Race To The Top' that will give extra money to provide teachers with extra training. We are giving 4 billion dollars to the worst performing schools.

Even if you aren't going to a four-year college, you need advanced training. Even to work in a factory, you need to be able to communicate effectively and learn math. Telling our children to turn off the television and focus on school is where we need to focus our attention.

There isn't a quick fixer. This is a 10-20 year project, Obama says.

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@ TheNewsTaco : we have to be a more effective partner in reducing demand for drugs & stemming flow of weapons, cash that facilitates cartels #preguntaobama

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"We are checking north and south bound for illegal contraband. Part of this issue here is budgetary, we have to figure out ways to operate smarter without a huge expansion of resources."

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From Elise Foley:

Obama said he thinks the courts will decide "very soon" whether to end the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents gay and lesbian men and women from petitioning for legal status for their foreign born partners.

"I can't comment on where the case will go, I can only comment on what I believe," he said, adding that he believes the law is unconstitutional.

He said he supports ending DOMA through Congress, but thinks the likelihood of passing such a repeal is unlikely.

"Truthfully, the recourse through the courts is probably going to be the best approach," Obama said.

But he did not say straight out that there are few options for gay couples to petition for legal status, or refer to the new deportation policy that could close deportation cases based on LGBT relationships. That policy change, if it is carried out effectively, is the most likely reprieve for binational couples facing deportation.

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@ TheNewsTaco : this notion that i can change the laws unilaterally is just not true, we r doing everything we can administratively #preguntaobama

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@ MidyAponte : Our enforcement strategy is not to chase down young people who are going to school and contributing to society^@Obama #AskObama

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@ MidyAponte : Loving @HispanicLa's, Gabriel Lerner, hard-lined questions! Poses Q on POTUS' previous statement regarding lack of dance partner. #AskObama

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Cesar is an undocumented law graduate DREAMer. Obama says, there are laws in the books that I have to enforce, I cannot pass the law by myself.

If all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, that is going to lead to a constant dead end. No one is going to be a stronger advocate than me, Obama says.

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Senior Editor Gabriel Lerner asks a question from a HuffPost LatinoVoices reader concerning Sheriff Arpaio, Obama says he won’t speak to specific cases, but that he is concerned by Arizona’s laws in regards to racial profiling.

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Obama: "This is a long-term challenge. I have a great relationship with President Calderon, we have focused on changing the infrastructure of the U.S.-Mexican borders. To increase the workforce there. The more they are able to generate jobs in Mexico, the more to some extent that, will ease the immigration pressure on the U.S."

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What can be done to stop bullying against Hispanic kids?

Obama: "What we have tried to do is to provide information to parents and schools to push back and fight against these kinds of trends. A lot of work has been done by young people themselves starting campaigns. It is something we will continue to work on. We had a conference about bullying... to prevent this kind of bullying from taking place."

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@ sarachicad : how can obama say "that change has taken place" to focus on non-criminals when we KNOW that's not true with #securecommunities ?? eh?

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@ latinorebels : Nice Obama on saying LATINO with an accent. Ha! Love it #askObama

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Question: In the long run, how do we create an economy that is more competitive?

Obama: "We have created more than 18 million jobs but the problem is that we have lost so many between 2007-08... We are still going to have to build up our infrastructure. Sustained effort can put a lot of people back into work. There isn't going to be a single silver bullet. We have to emphasize exports. Most importantly, is getting our Latino students, the largest growing group in the U.S. -- the workforce of the future--making sure they are trained and equipped."

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@ ergeekgoddess : "We are a nation of laws but we're also a nation of immigrants" ~@BarackObama #latism #preguntaObama

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Emphasis on criminals?

"The statistics are actually a little deceptive, what we have been doing is with stronger border enforcement, we have tried to be more fair, humane and just as we can. We are going after companies that are going after undocumented workers but also saying that they are contributing to our economy in an important way."

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On immigration reform:

Obama: "We have to create a system that works for all of us... we have to be serious about border securities. We have to be sure to provide a pathway so they can get out of the shadows and be a part of society. To do that, we have to get through legislation in congress. Until we get that law passed by congress that will continue to be a challenge."

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White House just informed LatinoVoices that they are running 10 minutes late.

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@ NCLR : Don't miss your chance to ask Pres. Obama a question. Details here: http://ow.ly/6GFPU #AskObama

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Welcome LatinoVoices readers. The round table with President Obama will begin at 11:25AM EST.

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The questions asked today came from readers like you, sent to us via Twitter, email and as comments over the last few days.

Disclaimer: AOL Latino and HuffPost LatinoVoices will ask the President questions from our users at a White House roundtable on September 28, 2011, which will be streamed live on both sites. In order for your question for the President to be considered, you must include your first name, city and state. By submitting your question, you agree that we may publish your first name, city and state; that we may post your question for public voting on our site; and that we may translate, edit, and combine your question with other submitted questions. Not all submitted questions will be selected for use at the roundtable, and public voting may not determine which questions are selected. AOL Latino and HuffPost LatinoVoices have sole discretion in selecting the user questions asked at the roundtable.

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