WASHINGTON — The Obama White House and campaign immediately mobilized to leverage Friday’s announcement of new stopgap Department of Homeland Security rules to allow young illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. — with Hispanics a voting group the president needs in November.
It was part of a week the Obama team spent shoring up constitu ent groups that are part of Obama’s Democratic political base — Jews, gays and Hispanics — while the president and Mitt Romney did major fund-raising and delivered dueling economic speeches in Ohio.
Katherine Archuleta, the national political director for Obama’s campaign, blasted out an email urging Congress to pass the Dream Act — a permanent immigration fix. In his speech Friday, President Barack Obama also prodded Congress.
With the presidential election looming, the House and Senate will not send a bill to Obama to sign. Archuleta’s email also allows the campaign to test and capture emails of those interested in immigration.
The White House on its website trumpeted upbeat reactions from Democratic-allied labor and Hispanic organizations (some dismayed by Obama’s slow pace on immigration policy) in a blog post by Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council. She highlighted testimonials from the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, the AFL-CIO, the Service Employees International Union, the Laborers International Union of North America and the National Immigration Center.
While Obama is repairing frayed relations with Hispanics over his slow delivery on immigration reform, he had more to brag about during a reception Friday at the White House to mark LGBT Pride month.
Obama told the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists that as long as he was president, they would have a strong advocate in the White House.
Noting his recent embrace of gay marriage, Obama said that his wife, Michelle, shares his views.
“Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality,” he said to laughter and applause. “But as I’ve indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue.”
On Wednesday, Obama presented Israeli President Shimon Peres with a Medal of Freedom at a White House dinner, which gave Obama another chance to offer assurances of his commitments to Israel — which needs bolstering within some elements of the Jewish-American community.
Durbin and the Dream Act
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told reporters in Chicago that a call from the White House woke him Friday morning with a heads-up about the immigration announcement.
Durbin has spent almost 11 years crusading and sponsoring an immigration bill — the Dream Act — to allow undocumented students a route to remain in the country legally.
On Sept. 10, 2001, Durbin launched his fight to allow students of illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. at a news conference in Chicago.
He was instrumental in pushing DHS for the administrative rule issued Friday.
Durbin saluted Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) for keeping pressure on the Obama White House and Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.), the only Republican to join Durbin and other Democrats in urging administrative relief.
Lugar, under attack by Tea Party activists, lost his GOP primary last month.
Natasha Korecki, in Chicago, contributed to this column.