President Obama on the Latino Education Crisis, the Dream Act & What He Loves About Hispanic Culture

In an unprecedented conversation, the American president talks to Latina about everything from whether there is a Latino education crisis to what it will take to get the Dream Act passed—and even shares what he loves about our culture (mole, anyone?).

On the state of education for Latinos“I think there is no doubt that there is a long-running education crisis in the Latino community.  We only have about 50 percent of Latino kids who are graduating from high school on time, and about 13 percent who are attending college.  One of the things that we will continue to push is education reform that targets specifically those schools with children that aren’t performing as well as they need to – and a sizable percentage of those schools are Latino schools.”

On why his administration continues to deport Dream Act-eligible students: “Well, the truth of the matter is that we have exercised as much administrative discretion as we can...With respect to Dream Act kids, I’m a huge supporter of getting that law changed because these kids are extraordinarily talented and want to contribute to helping to build America.  We are going to keep pushing to get the Dream Act passed.  We want to send the message that we have to enforce the law, and there are limits to what I can do with respect to circumventing the laws that Congress has passed.”

On his favorite Latino foods: “I have to say, I’m probably biased towards a really good mole. [And] we have some folks in the White House kitchen that can whip up some pretty good tamales for Michelle. That may be her favorite food, generally!  You put a tamale in front of her and she shows no restraint.”

On his favorite Latino music: “Whether it’s Gloria Estefan, Juanes, Shakira or Los Lobos, I have all kinds of stuff on my iPod.”

On his secrets for making marriage work“Our marriage has been wonderful because Michelle is a strong partner.  We respect each other, we listen to each other, we co-parent and we compromise.  She has always been firm about family first.  So that’s provided me a base and a ground that is hugely important.”

For more from our exclusive interview with President Obama, pick up the November issue of Latina, available on newsstands October 18th.