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But last month, on Univision’s “Al Punto” Sunday political talk show, host Jorge Ramos tried to pin down Mr. Obama on his campaign “guarantee” that “we will have, in the first year, an immigration bill that I strongly support.”

“You are absolutely right, the economic crisis has meant that I have been putting a lot on Congress’ plate,” Mr. Obama told Mr. Ramos, according to Univision’s transcript. “So what that’s meant is that just in terms of the calendar, I can’t guarantee that I will have a bill on my desk before the end of the year.”

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was asked whether Americans have enough confidence in border security.

“It depends on who you ask and when,” she said.

Those who want to see stricter limits on immigration say they have been amazed at how much leeway Mr. Obama is being given by immigrant rights groups who have been harshly critical of calls for enforcement first.

“I’m just surprised at how muted the reaction has been to Obama’s complete lack of action on immigration,” said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, who said immigrant rights groups are giving Mr. Obama “a lot more slack than they would have given a President McCain.”

Earlier this year Mr. McCain told The Washington Times that immigrant rights supporters were mistaken if they thought Mr. Obama’s promise to conduct meetings meant they will see a bill.

“I was fascinated the Hispanic Caucus came out all excited - ‘Hey, he said we’re going to have forums and meetings and conferences on it’ - is there somebody that doesn’t understand the issue of immigration? So if the president wants to lead and make a proposal on comprehensive immigration reform with the principle of securing our borders first, then I’m ready to join in. But the president has to lead,” Mr. McCain said.