Long-Overdue Action, Even If It's Just Politics
In yet another welcomed administrative move to ease the hardships of undocumented immigrants, the Obama administration, last week, proposed new rules that will allow some immigrants to remain in the country while they apply for legal residency.
It applies only to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who already qualify for legal status. All it does is shorten the time they would have to leave the country. Yet some GOP hardliners already are calling it "backdoor amnesty." Anything short of massive deportations is "amnesty" to them.
When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, he promised to fix our broken immigration system. But Obama spent the first two years of his administration claiming there was nothing he could do without the consent of Congress. And yet, this announcement proves, once again, that there is indeed much that the president can do on his own.
The new rules are part of the series of changes the administration has been making in the past few months — the kind of changes many Latino and immigrant rights advocates had begged him to make for years.
Unfortunately, naively believing that he could get Republicans to negotiate if he behaved like a hawk for a while, Obama allowed his administration to break deportation records and took too long to come to the rescue of even legal immigrants when they were being threatened by state laws that encouraged racial profiling. He didn't realize that no amount of crackdown on undocumented immigrants would ever be enough to satisfy the Republicans, and he created resentment in the barrios.
After all, this is the president who was supposed to change the anti-immigrant climate in this country, the one who said, "Si se puede ... Yes we can" and raised Latino hopes and expectations like never before. And yet, that climate has worsened under Obama's watch!
Although the anti-immigrant measures mostly come from Republicans, many Latinos can't seem to forget Obama's broken promise to push comprehensive immigration reform through Congress.
The fact that many Latinos still are reluctant to re-elect Obama, in spite of a field of Republican opponents who favor mass deportations, is a clear indication of how disappointed many remain with the president.
Although all of the GOP presidential candidates already have assured us that they would be much more draconian than Obama on illegal immigration, the Democrats are rightfully worried that many Latinos might choose to stay home on Election Day.
That's the only reason why the Obama administration finally decided in August to cut down on deportations by asking the Department of Homeland Security to suspend deportation proceeding against illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety and to only go after undocumented immigrants who have criminal records.
Latino voter apathy and the threat it represents to Obama's re-election is also the reason for the new rules proposed last week.
It is "intended to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from immediate relatives who are required to remain outside the United States for immigrant visa application processing and during the adjudication of waivers of inadmissibility," according to a Homeland Security summary that makes no mention of Obama's clear political intentions.
Unfortunately, the president's newfound methods to help undocumented immigrants are coming now that he is seeking re-election and desperately needs the Latino vote. Had these changes been made a little sooner, perhaps they could have earned Obama a little more loyalty among Latinos.
The timing of these changes clearly shows that Obama isn't doing this out of heartfelt compassion or commitment but political expediency.
It also shows the growing power of the Latino vote. Had it not been for the pressure Obama feels from Latino advocates and from the many voters who are still looking for an alternative, none of these changes would be happening.
Obama is finally showing that "Si se puede ... Yes we can" — but not without some arm-twisting from amigos he tends to neglect.
To find out more about Miguel Perez and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM