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U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks while TV personality Jorge Ramos listens during the Univision Bell Multicultural High School education town hall in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, March 28, 2011. Obama said that if the U.S. education system is not improved then "we won't be able to project military strength or any other kind of strength, " citing the 10 percent budget increase for education that he's proposed in his 2012 budget. Photographer: Dennis Brack/Pool via Bloomberg

MORE AND more Latinos are wising up to President Barack Obama's phony immigration two-step.

They include Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, who was until recently the administration's favorite Latino journalist. Ramos earned the honor by gushing over Obama during the 2008 election run.

Now, Ramos probably won't be landing any more exclusive interviews or getting any more invitations to state dinners. What did Ramos do to end up in the doghouse with the White House? Answer: Journalism.

The newsman asked Obama some tough questions about his immigration policy that the president couldn't answer.

Bravo. Obama needs more scrutiny. Left-leaning Latino advocacy groups -- the National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, et al -- have a three-pronged strategy: "See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil."

Now, about Obama's two-step.

That's where he panders to Latino voters by criticizing the GOP for being too tough on immigration enforcement while also pandering to non-Latinos by being even tougher.

It's where Obama tells Latino audiences that he's a champion of comprehensive reform while doing everything he can to keep it off the Democrats' agenda in Congress.


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It's where Obama portrays his immigration policy as a kind and gentle version that doesn't divide families while the Department of Homeland Security does just that by deporting undocumented parents and leaving their U.S.-born children in this country.

It's where Obama, in an interview with Ramos during a stopover in El Salvador, claims that illegal immigrants who would have been spared by the Dream Act -- which offered legal status in exchange for attending college or joining the military -- aren't being deported because the administration is not "going around rounding up students." Then, a few days later, in another interview with Ramos during a town hall session in Washington, Obama has to acknowledge that his administration is in fact deporting students because "America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law."

And it's where Obama -- when asked by Ramos if he could issue an executive order to stop these deportations -- claims that he doesn't have the power because it "would not conform with (his) appropriate role as president."

Then, seconds later, he claims to advocate for "young people ... whose talents we want to embrace in order to succeed as a country."

All this double talk is exhausting. It's hard trying to be all things to all people. And it's really hard being a Democrat who wants to please both Latino voters (most of whom want comprehensive immigration reform) and organized labor (which worries about its members competing with illegal immigrants for jobs and thinks the competition will only get stiffer if the immigrants are legalized).

So, it's no wonder that Obama is left with this rhetorical hash and words that don't match his actions.

Just like it's no wonder that Obama seemed to get caught in a lie about whether illegal immigrant students who would be covered by the Dream Act are being rounded up and deported. Not until Ramos presented him with hard evidence to the contrary did he shift gears and talk about how it's his job as president to "enforce the law."

The evidence came from an illegal immigrant the administration is trying to deport. During the town hall session, Ramos showed Obama a videotape of high school student Karen Maldonado. Holding up her deportation order, she asked, "My question for the president is, why (is he) saying that deportations have stopped, or the detention of many students like me? Why is it that we are still receiving deportation letters like this one?"

Fumbling for an answer, Obama talked about his support for the Dream Act, and how he wanted young people like Maldonado to succeed, and how people should call Congress, etc.

In a later interview with Univision, Maldonado said about Obama: "I think he wants to help," but "the president kept going in circles. It looks like he did not want to answer my question. I wonder if he is just making this up. He gives us hope, but is not doing anything about it."

You're right, Karen. President Obama isn't doing anything to fix the immigration system or stop deportations. It's not because he doesn't have the power to act, but because he doesn't have the guts to accept the consequences of his actions. That part of the story is easy to understand, but hard to defend.

Ruben Navarrette is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.