LOS ANGELES, April 22, 2011 (AFP) – Hundreds of protesters, mostly Hispanics demanding immigration reform, gathered to vent their disappointment with US President Barack Obama as he visited California on Thursday.
Many of the activists said they were Obama supporters but felt let down by the slow pace of the change he promised in his 2008 White House run. The president is currently ramping up his campaign for another term.
Around 200 protesters waved signs and chanted: “Obama, keep your promise!” outside the Sony Pictures studio in Culver City, west of Los Angeles, where Obama attended a fundraising dinner.
“Where’s our change? We need money for housing, not for war! We need money for health care, not for war!” they chanted.
Some protesters reproached Obama for not doing enough to recognize the 1915 Armenian Genocide, while other activists demonstrated against scientific testing on animals and pacifists called for an end to war.
They warned Obama he could not count on their votes if he failed to do more to meet their demands.
Most were Hispanic citizens and immigrants who held signs saying “Change requires courage” and called on Obama to renew efforts to enact the DREAM Act, which stalled in the Senate after passing in the House in December.
The bill would clear a path to permanent legal status for those who arrived when they were 15 or younger, have lived on US soil for at least five years, graduated from high school, have no criminal record, and have completed two years of college or service in the US armed forces.
Obama “has to assert his power to immediately stop deportations,” said Tony Ortuno, 20, a Mexican political science student who has no legal documents because his parents brought him to the United States as a baby.
“In 2008, when he was a candidate, the president gave us a really nice song and we danced, but when we got into the dance the radio was turned off,” said Jorge Mario Cabrera, an immigrant rights activist.
Obama had vowed to pursue a comprehensive overhaul of US immigration at a time when an estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants lived in the United States.
The effort â€“ which appealed to U.S. Hispanics, now the country’s largest minority group â€“ fell apart in the U.S. Congress, and the president blamed his Republican foes.