A week after the bombshell announcement he was blocking the deportation of young illegal immigrants, President Barack Obama will arrive in Florida on Friday flush with confidence.
Hispanics, a growing voting power, are energized. A new poll shows broad support for the policy. And GOP rival Mitt Romney is struggling to respond.
When both candidates address the influential National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Orlando this week, make no mistake, Obama will have the upper hand. But beneath the image of the victorious defender of immigrants is a starkly different reality.
Obama has been tougher on deportations than any modern president — expelling nearly 1.5 million people so far. Many have been criminals, but the effort has also torn apart families and hurt some of the young people Obama now wants to help.
"You can't describe it. It's a whole tornado of emotions," said Daniela Pelaez, 18, a valedictorian at North Miami Senior High who faced deportation to her native Colombia this year before getting a reprieve.
Deportations soared as Obama failed to follow through on a campaign promise to enact immigration reform, even when Democrats controlled Congress. "The community has felt let down by him," Pelaez said.
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