Hillary Clinton called President Obama’s immigration actions “historic” during an event in New York City Friday night.

“It’s really the lives of people who are in many instances longtime residents and workers who have not only raised children, but made contributions and in many, many instances, because of the way our system operates, paid taxes already,” Clinton said, according to Politico.

The likely 2016 presidential candidate said that Obama acted “in the face of not only past inaction but, I think it’s fair to say for those of us who have observed the Congress’s attitude toward immigration in the House of Representatives, likely to be the future as well.”

Hillary Clinton also drew attention on Thursday night when she tweeted support of the Obama’s immigration plan soon after his speech.

The Latino vote is considered a key bloc for both parties in 2016. According to the Pew Research Center, 11.2 million Latinos voted in 2012 – 71% for Barack Obama.

Given that large majority for the Democratic candidate, Clinton’s vocal defense of Obama’s action can be seen as a play to solidify Latino support ahead of her own presidential campaign. Pew says that another 12 million Latinos were eligible to vote but did not in 2012.

Clinton spoke in distinctly personal terms about the plight of immigrants, adding that Obama’s decision and reform in general are “about people, I would venture to guess, who served us tonight, who prepared the food tonight.”

Clinton was speaking at an event hosted by the New York Historical Society at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at the Time Warner Center in New York City.

Perhaps offering a preview of how she is planning to position herself in 2016, she also said, “I think we just need to get back into that can-do, problem-solving spirit that the Roosevelts exemplified.”

On Friday, Clinton adviser Harold Ickes said that Jeb Bush – who speaks Spanish and whose wife is a Mexican immigrant – and Rob Portman may make a formidable ticket against the former Obama secretary of state and New York senator.

But for Clinton, Obama’s immigration plan may help secure a key voting bloc nearly two years before election day and put her Republican opponents at a distinct disadvantage. At least, that seems to be her hope.

[photo credit: marcn]