January 26th, 2012
04:17 PM ET
Washington (CNN) –The “testy tarmac” exchange between President Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was clearly the water cooler story of the day, and it has stirred debate on a broader national issue: Immigration reform.
Differences over how to solve the problem of illegal immigration and how the discussion was handled in a 2010 Oval Office meeting are at the root of the tiff.
The frustration extends to Latino voters, but for a different reason: the slow pace of progress.
But in this 2012 campaign, Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum, says the Latino vote is up for grabs.
"They realize that President Obama deported more immigrants, Latinos than any other president,” Noorani said.
“They also know that Republicans stood in the way of the DREAM Act, and Republicans haven't put a proposal on the table to fix immigration."
During his State of the Union address the president repeated his call for comprehensive immigration reform.
“The opponents of action are out of excuses,” the president said, even as he touted accomplishments.
“My administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossing than when I took office.”
Gearing up for what is expected to be a highly competitive general election campaign, the president is courting this crucial segment of the Democratic base.
In an interview Thursday with Spanish language network Univision, the president blamed Republicans for failing to deliver immigration reform.
“We couldn’t get any Republican votes. Zero. None. And yeah, that’s the way the House and the Senate work right now,” said President Obama.
The president is also promoting his policies this week in states like Arizona and Nevada with heavy Latino populations.
In Florida, the first lady joined Latino organizations in promoting healthy eating habits.
"At the end of the day, good policy makes for good politics," said Noorani of the National Immigration Forum.