White House officials hold Hispanic summit in Phoenix

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by Stacey Delikat & Tess Rafols

Bio | Email | Follow: @Tess3TV

Video report by Tess Rafols

Posted on January 28, 2012 at 5:16 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 28 at 8:30 PM

PHOENIX -- In yet another sign that the Obama administration is courting Latino voters in Arizona, White House Officials held a Hispanic summit in Phoenix Saturday.

The summit, held on the downtown campus of Arizona State University, is one of over a dozen the White House is hosting with Hispanic countries across the country.

About 350 people attende the daylong event.  It featured dozens of officials from the White House and Cabinet agencies who addressed issues including jobs, housing, childhood obesity and immigration reform.

One of the biggest topics brought up by community members was the controversial Dream Act. A handful of young Latinos voiced their concerns.

"I'm here because it's a unique opportunity to be able to meet with people from the White House," said Dulce Matuz. Matuz, who is with the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, says she doesn't feel the Obama administration is doing enough to help young Hispanics who have lived in this country for years but are undocumented. 

So does Matuz think summits like this make a difference?  "I'm not sure if it will help, but we have to try," she said.

They met in small groups to exchange ideas on how to further their cause and improve lives for Hispanics in the valley.

"The Latino community plays a very important role for the state, and that's why we're here," said Jose Rico, the Executive Director of the White House initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics.

The summit is another sign that Obama is trying to shore up the Latino vote here in Arizona.

"What we're doing now is actually looking at some of the accomplishments the President has been doing not only in education, but in health care, jobs and the economy, and immigration," Rico said. "And we're really seeing how these accomplishments we made can really reach the Latino leaders here in Phoenix."

Obama handily won the Hispanic vote against Arizona Senator John McCain in 2008, but many Latinos who voted for him then say they've grown frustrated.

"There's a lot of frustration, a lot of us, last time it could have been the first time we voted, when we first voted for Obama and none of his promises, especially on immigration, have come true," said Carlos Garcia, a local Latino activist.

White House officials were here last July in a simliar summit.  They say they'll take the concerns and ideas from the Phoenix-area community, back to Washington.

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