By Alister Bull Alister Bull
Fri Apr 29, 11:21 pm ET
.MIAMI (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday vowed to fight for immigration reform, a goal that has eluded him and which matters deeply to Hispanic American voters, whose support he needs for reelection in 2012.
In remarks delivered to several thousand wildly cheering community college students, Obama was also courting support in the vital election battleground state of Florida, which he won in 2008 and wants to keep in his column next year.
"I strongly believe we should fix our broken immigration system. Fix it so it meets our 21st century economic and security needs," Obama told a Miami Dade College graduation ceremony. The college serves tens of thousands of Hispanic and African-American students.
The president's drive for immigration reform has so far taken a back seat to more pressing matters, such as getting the economy growing again and driving through a massive overhaul of healthcare.
In addition, the Democrats' loss of control of the House of Representatives to Republicans last year makes the chance of advancing immigration legislation before the election remote.
But Obama, who formally announced his 2012 reelection campaign earlier this month, must assure Hispanic-American voters who helped him win the White House that he will not abandon efforts to overhaul U.S. immigration policy.
The White House has held events over the last two weeks to discuss immigration and to show Obama is still pushing the issue and seeking to rally public support.
Obama failed last year to pass the "Dream Act," which would have provided a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, was a disappointment.
That failure was a serious let-down for many Latin Americans, the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States and an increasingly important voting bloc.
Obama said he had not given up.
"I will keep fighting alongside many of you to make the 'Dream Act' the law of the land," he said. "It will be difficult and it will take time. I know that some of you wish I could just bypass Congress and change the law myself. But that is not how democracy works."
(Editing by Paul Simao)