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Obama exhorts Hispanic legislators for support in November

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Don't forget who has helped you, Obama tells Hispanic caucus
  • The president says Republicans are obstructing progress in Congress
  • Obama pledges a continued fight for immigration reform

Washington (CNN) -- Don't forget who your friends are, President Barack Obama urged Hispanic legislators Wednesday night in a forceful speech that attacked what he called Republican obstruction in Congress.

Obama told the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute's 33rd Annual Award Gala that Republicans were to blame for the failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

"I know that many of you campaigned hard for me, and, understandably, you're frustrated that we haven't been able to move this over the finish line yet. I am, too," Obama said of the most important issue to the Hispanic community.

He pledged to keep fighting for passage of the measure, and encouraged the Hispanic caucus to side with his administration and congressional Democrats on the issue, rather than Republicans whom he accused of stalling progress.

"To make real progress on these or any issues, we've got to break the Republican leadership's blockade," Obama said.

He repeated his past assertion that several Republican senators who voted for immigration reform before he became president now opposed the similar plan awaiting Senate action.

Republicans have opposed almost every reform effort, Obama said, drawing cheers by using the Spanish phrase "no se puede" ("No you can't") to describe the GOP platform in a play off his own campaign slogan of "Yes we can."

Obama then listed the accomplishments of his administration so far, including health-care reform and Wall Street reform.

"You have every right to keep the heat on me and keep the heat on the Democrats, and I hope you do," Obama continued, adding: "But don't forget who is standing with you, and who is standing against you."

In reference to the upcoming November congressional elections, in which Democrats are expected to suffer losses in both chambers, Obama said the result will matter to the Hispanic caucus.

"Don't forget who secured health care for 4 million children, including the children of legal immigrants," he said. "Don't forget who won new Pell Grants for more than 100,000 Latino students. Don't forget who fought for credit-card reform, a new agency to protect consumers from predatory lending, and protections for folks who send remittances back home. Don't forget who cut taxes for working families.

"Don't forget who your friends are," he continued, adding in Spanish: "No se olviden" ("Don't forget").