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Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez
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Obama Insults Our Intelligence

Comment

The buildup was huge, but not as big as the letdown. President Barack Obama met with Latino and other pro-immigrant leaders and led them to believe that something different was about to happen. He had scheduled a major speech on immigration, and everyone expected him to finally begin to deliver the change he had promised.

Yet when Obama spoke at American University last week, we couldn't believe our ears. Like a broken record, he repeated the same things he has been saying about immigration reform since he was running for president. He was eloquent, as usual, but shockingly anticlimactic.

He reminded us that "we've always defined ourselves as a nation of immigrants," that immigrants "have always helped to build and defend this country" and that a "steady stream of hardworking and talented people has made America the engine of the global economy and a beacon of hope around the world." He even recited Emma Lazarus' poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, about the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Obama told us that "each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentments towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval" and that "the politics of who is and who is not allowed to enter this country — and on what terms — has always been contentious."

He reminded us that the illegal immigration problem is not just at our southern border but also with people who come legally but overstay their visas. He told us that the overwhelming majority of the undocumented immigrants in the country are hardworking people who stay out of trouble and are "simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children."

But it was all political grandstanding. There was absolutely nothing new in this speech — no outline of steps to take, no timetable for getting things done, no concrete commitments to fight for this issue as he fought for health care reform and other legislation that has gone through Congress, no new ideas to bridge the gap between proponents and opponents of comprehensive immigration reform.

He said this is an issue that "lends itself to demagoguery," yet that was precisely what he was delivering. He said his administration "will not just kick the can down the road," yet that is exactly what he was doing. He said immigration reform "has been held hostage to political posturing," and you have to wonder whether the president has looked at himself in the mirror.

Political posturing, Mr. President? You can write the book!

Quite hypocritically, Obama spoke about "the pervasive sentiment in Washington that tackling such a thorny and emotional issue is inherently bad politics" — when we know that some members of his own administration feel that way.

When he campaigned for president, Obama promised he would deliver immigration reform in his first year in office.

But when he had the chance to do it, when Democrats had a supermajority in the Senate, he didn't even try. Now he claims he can't do it without a few Senate Republicans, but you don't see him pressuring the Senate Democrats who also are opposed to reform. You don't see him trying to curtail immigration raids and deportations. In fact, he rejected the idea of putting an end to deportations until we have better immigration laws, and he admitted that he has directed the Department of Homeland Security "to improve our enforcement policy without having to wait for a new law."

Nevertheless, conservative extremists — driven by racism and xenophobia — reacted as if Obama was caving in to Latino voters, giving away the motherland, granting amnesty to "criminals" and promoting other measures that only exist in their warped minds.

In fact, the president spent more time reassuring the right than he did the left. He bragged about having "more boots on the ground near the Southwest border than at any time in our history," about "a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally" and about stepping up enforcement against employers who hire undocumented immigrants.

Yet amazingly, though Obama was only giving Latinos and other immigrants the same old tired lip service that has become an insult to our intelligence, many of the so-called pro-immigrant leaders had the gall to praise the president's speech. They actually bought his demagoguery!

One said that the president "demonstrated great courage and conviction" and that "Congress can do the nation a great service by following President Obama's lead." Others made excuses for Obama, noting that he was "elected President, not king." And though some acknowledged that they were disillusioned by Obama's speech, others clearly remain more loyal to the Democratic Party than to their own community.

Now that the U.S. Justice Department had no choice but to sue Arizona for trying to usurp federal immigration laws and now that Obama has delivered this so-called "major immigration speech," they can tell Latino voters that at least Obama tried, that the Republicans wouldn't let him fix our broken immigration system and that we should continue to support Obama and other do-nothing Democrats.

Let's face it; with such leaders in the immigrant community, Obama can just keep claiming he is "ready to move forward" on immigration reform. But he is clearly under no pressure to lead.

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.

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Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Obama made and subsequently broke a lot of promises to a lot of people. The thing that irks me is your insistance that somehow, criminal hispanics/latinos/whatever you call yourselves these day, DESERVE the same rights as Citizens.
Comment: #1
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jul 7, 2010 5:54 PM
I'm a legal American citizen and I must show my ID when:
1. Pulled over by the police.
2. Making purchases on my department store credit card.
3. When I show up for a doctor's appointment.
4. When filling out a credit card or loan application.
5. When applying for or renewing a driver's license or passport.
6. When applying for any kind of insurance.
7. When filling out college applications.
8. When donating blood.
9. When obtaining certain prescription drugs.
10. When making some debit purchases, especially If I'm out of state.
11. When collecting a boarding pass for airline or train travel.
I'm sure there are more instances, but the point is that we citizens of the USA are required to prove who we are nearly every day!
Why should people in this country illegally, be exempt!!!!!
The Arizona law does not mean that a police officer can stop a person that looks Hispanic and ask for papers. They must stop the person for something illegal, such as speeding, shoplifting, dealing drugs, etc., first. If the person can't produce a U.S. identification card or driver's license, they must be able to produce a passport or papers that say that they are in the U.S. legally.
Why shouldn't we guard our borders as closely as every other country in the world does? Go ARIZONA !!!
Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Jul 7, 2010 10:31 PM
Ladies and gentlemen...Do not waste your time trying to convince Mr. Perez by using logic. Afterall, Mr. Perez began his career by pandering to the highly conservative Cuban populace of Hudson County. Yet as the exodus of Cubans from that area to FL begun and in turn the never ending waves of illegals or the so called "latinos" took over, he adapted very quickly by switching sides and becoming the unofficial champion of all "latinos" (an utterly ridiculous political term)...Anyone that's from Hudson county, Cuban and politically knowledgeable knows Mr. Perez record very well....
Case in point: His conservative stance on Cuban....it's simple really- the epitome of opportunism...
In summary, legitimacy, authenticity & conviction are not terms to be associated with this particular journalist....
Comment: #3
Posted by: aldridk gessa
Thu Jul 8, 2010 3:07 PM
Actually, Mr. Perez, you insult our intelligence. I am not driven by racism and xenophobia, but rather by law and order. These are tenets you are either not familiar with or have chosen to ignore.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Zmedia
Sun Jul 11, 2010 11:01 AM
I just can't see how poor Mr.Perez can abide to live in such a racist country as this one. Can we take up donations to ease his suffering and ease his whiteaphobic rear end out of this country to some place where they aren't racist and welcome immigrants , like MEXICO, ha, ha, ha,
Comment: #5
Posted by: James Reinhardt
Mon Jul 12, 2010 11:53 AM
Mr. Perez, I know America has been the refuge and hope of inmigrants, the most generous donnor to other nations... but things change. There is not enough to go around these days... try to explain to unemployed citizens about to loose their homes, or self employed between the ages of 55 and 65 that can't afford health care, or retirees that worked their whole lives and try to live on SS why the tax payers' dollars have to pay for benefits for anyone that crosses the border... in hard times, hard meassures... I am an inmigrant myself, but I came in legally. I have never been in welfare and did not have a child because felt I could not afford it at the time. That is being responsible. Most children are born to people that cannot afford it, one out of 5 women in the US right now, has never had children these days... I would love to know of the remaining 4 how many were minorities. As a minority myself, I feel it is time to grow up "latinos"... what is fair is fair...
Comment: #6
Posted by: E Casal
Wed Jul 14, 2010 9:06 AM
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