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clock Nov 20, 2006 6:19 pm US/Central

Latinos Upset Obama Voted For Border Fence

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Rafael Romo

(CBS) CHICAGO While U.S. Sen. Barack Obama outlined his battle plan Monday for troops to gradually pull out of Iraq, a powerful group is criticizing the popular senator for his stance on another issue.

CBS 2's Rafael Romo reports on some Latinos who are upset that he voted for a fence to go up at the border with Mexico.

"I am confident that, if you look at my track record, there hasn't been a stronger friend to the Latino community than me," Obama said on Monday.

But Hispanic leaders say he has betrayed the trust of the people who always gave him their votes.

"He's lost his vision; he's lost his feet on the ground," said Hispanic leader Carmen Velasquez.

Obama is being criticized after siding with Republicans in the Senate to approve a 700-mile wall across the Mexican border. The vote happened almost two months ago.

But CBS 2 News has learned exclusively that Obama has met privately with Hispanic leaders in an effort to convince them that his vote is part of a larger strategy.

"It's a done deal, he did it. You know, what am I going to say? Well , I know you made a mistake and we were told it was part of a bigger strategy. What strategy?" Velasquez said.

Other Latino leaders say when it comes to the Latino community, you have to look at Obama's entire record and not just one vote.

"He has a good record of supporting immigrant issues, and I think that will continue. And so I'm confident that he will be able to mend those fences, no pun intended," said state Sen. Miguel Del Valle.

On Monday afternoon, Obama wouldn't get into the details of his vote on the border wall. When asked what he would do to regain the Hispanic vote, he stopped short of saying he's never lost it.

"Are you suggesting that I lost it?" he said.

In voting for the wall, Obama joined 26 other Democratic senators who sided with Republicans to approve the bill, including Hilary Clinton.

Sen. Dick Durbin did not vote for the bill saying it was the wrong approach to deal with the immigration problem.

(© MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.)

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