Gonzalez was joined by Geoffrey Bible (SFS ’12), Nicole Tortoriello (COL ’12), and other Georgetown students in the audience for President Barack Obama’s town hall, which was broadcast live on the MTV, BET and CMT networks. [Disclosure: Bible is the Assistant Editor of Vox.]
Gonzalez, who described Obama as “very tall and quite funny” and “very candid,” asked the President about the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that proposes a path to citizenship for illegal-immigrant minors.
“How will your administration take concrete steps to make sure that legislation like the DREAM Act gets passed before the end of your term, so that these immigrants don’t live the dream—don’t dream the dream, live the reality?” he asked.
Obama responded positively, saying the he is “somewhat optimistic” that the act will pass during the next congressional session.
“It’s the right thing to do. It has received bipartisan support in the past. My strong hope is that we can get bipartisan support for this in the future,” Obama said. “I’m going to keep on pushing.”
Gonzalez learned about the town hall through the GU Latino Alumni listserv, then participated in an interview, and background check before being selected. The event drew the attention of CNN, ABC News, USA Today, and other media outlets for its casting process, which targeted a “diverse audience,” according to Viacom spokeswoman Kelly McAndrew.
Although Gonzalez praised Obama’s demeanor, noting how he shook every person’s hand in the audience, he admitted, “I didn’t feel like he answered my question.”
“I come from a country, Cuba, where there is no such thing as a town hall meeting and where your opinion does not matter,” Gonzalez wrote in an email. “For the first time in my life, I felt like my voice had an impact on national politics … I really wanted to be there because I want Americans to realize that getting an education is a right of every person, regardless of their immigration status.”
The President also answered questions from students and faculty of University of Maryland, Catholic University, Howard University and George Washington University about gay rights, college affordability, health care and the economy, among other subjects.