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Miguel Perez
Miguel Perez
22 Apr 2014
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To Fight for Immigration Reform, Don't Show Up in the Last Round

Comment

They seemed almost embarrassed to acknowledge it. Yet one after another, the same immigrant rights leaders who encouraged us to vote for Barack Obama were telling us that the president had betrayed them — and all of us who believed that he would fix our broken immigration system.

At a Washington news conference last week, they finally took off their politically correct gloves and slapped the president around for failing to keep his promise to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.

It took them a long time. If they had started protesting this way last summer, perhaps they could have pressured the president and Congress to take up this controversial matter long before this year's midterm elections. Yet now that they are nearly out of time — in the last round — the pro-immigrant leaders finally have come out swinging.

They charged that Obama broke George W. Bush's deportation record, that the Obama administration "seems proud to out-enforce the Bush administration" and that many things Obama could have improved for undocumented immigrants — even without the consent of Congress — have actually worsened under his administration. They said that even in their wildest nightmares, they never imagined that Obama would deport more than 387,000 immigrants during his first year as president or that on any given day on Obama's watch, there would be 32,000 immigrants detained in U.S. prisons and awaiting deportation.

"These are the same enforcement practices that we marched against during the Bush administration," said Angelica Salas, director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles.

She and other members of the Fair Immigration Reform Movement called on Obama to halt immigration raids and deportations and to fight for a legalization plan for some 11 million undocumented immigrants. They called on all Americans to join them in a pro-immigration march in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, March 21, to pressure the president and Congress to come up with "concrete" immigration reform proposals immediately.

That was on Monday, March 8. Three days later, some of the same leaders actually met with the president and came out of the White House claiming that they were encouraged once again by Obama's alleged commitment to overhaul our immigration system. Really? On the same day they were meeting with the president, major raids against undocumented immigrants were being conducted in Maryland, as the Obama administration continues to beat Bush on Draconian policies that could be stopped by executive order.

Before meeting with pro-immigrant advocates Thursday, March 11, Obama also met with the two senators — Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. — who have been procrastinating artfully on the creation of a new "bipartisan" immigration reform bill.

And though the pro-immigrant advocates keep demanding to see a concrete proposal from the president and Congress before their March 21 demonstration, all we've gotten has been a statement in which Obama said he would "review" the "promising framework" drafted by the two senators.

Obviously, the Schumer-Graham bill is far from ready — and much farther from being introduced, approved by Congress and signed by Obama this year.

As opposed to the comprehensive immigration reform bill already introduced in the House — by Rep.

Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill. — the Schumer-Graham bill would attempt to control future illegal immigration by creating a national biometric identification card for all American citizens and legal immigrants — a new issue that by itself could take a year to debate in Congress and perhaps even longer in the courts. There certainly will be many Americans who will argue that a national ID card would allow the government to violate their right to privacy.

Surely Schumer, Graham and Obama are aware that such a measure would totally derail comprehensive immigration reform for months, if not years. Is that their objective? Can they be trusted at this point?

While the president was telling pro-immigrant advocates that he needs to rally the support of some Republicans in order to pass an immigration reform bill, Graham was issuing a statement saying that he told Obama "in no uncertain terms" that immigration reform "could come to a halt for the year" if Obama persisted on passing health care legislation by using the reconciliation method, which requires a 51-vote majority in the Senate instead of 60 votes. "Using reconciliation to push health care through will make it much harder for Congress to come together on a topic as important as immigration," Graham noted.

Of course, we all know that Obama is indeed "using reconciliation to push health care through." In fact, he is spending all his political capital to attain the 216 House votes needed to pass the health care bill this week — the same week when pro-immigrant advocates expect him to come up with "concrete" immigration proposals.

It's too late — and they know it! Everyone knows that the obstacles to immigration reform are insurmountable right now. Everyone knows that once health care is out of the way, the president and Congress have other huge priorities, such as job creation, waiting in line.

Yet they show up in the last round, while their opponent is still busy with another tough rival, and they expect Obama to fight for health care and immigration at the same time.

They stayed loyal to Obama and the Democratic Party for too long, and now they will go to Washington to pretend that they are the independent leaders they should have been since last summer.

I'm sorry. I wish this were truly a grass-roots effort to condemn Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress for betraying the immigrants they promised to help. Better yet, I wish it were still possible to pressure Democrats to "do the right thing" for immigrants this year. But this is all a farce.

The White House meetings with senators and advocates and even the demonstration on Sunday — it's all a show, make-believe, so that both the back-stabbing politicians and the betrayed pro-immigrant leaders can pretend that at least they tried.

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 2010 CREATORS.COM



Comments

6 Comments | Post Comment
Great article! you hit the nail right on the head and should be congratulated for zeroing in on this issue and telling us like it really is.Out of fear or having a conservative mentality most major Latino blogs tend to avoid rocking the boat and stepping on politicians or Latino leaders toes thereby dampening the reaction most Latinos should feel about what's happening.Actually,it's a disservice to all Latinos.
My take on the immigration reform matter is that it's bad enough that the immigrant rights movement faces opposition ..some hostile..some not so..from such varied groups as the republican party/tea party,the minutemen,neo-nazi and other white supremacist organizations…Throw in existing prevailing white racism against brown people from white citizens and voters and you have a truly formidable mountain to climb.
But what is even more troublesome is that the democratic party, liberal politicians,Latino leadership in government as well as the major movement groups are not connecting with their own Latino brothers and sisters..and that's a huge problem we face..witness recent elections of anti-immigrant conservatives and the passing of draconian state ballot propositions having passed receiving significant support from Latino voters…
the movement and it's message is not reaching many Latino voters..
I am of the opinion that Latinos are becoming tired and wary of liberal hypocrisy sending out fuzzy messages that just stall for time,pass the buck and avoid dealing with the “real deal” here..
People will react when they are told the truth no matter how frightening and foreboding their implications may be may be.
- my take tends to be politically radical ..the word “radical” deriving from the word “root”..
it is my view that Latinos deserve to be told the truth no matter how bitter and difficult it may be..
Comment: #1
Posted by: CHICANO-future tense
Tue Mar 16, 2010 10:39 AM
Let me see if I got this right.
If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.
If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely.
If you cross the Afghan border illegally, you get shot.
If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into political prison to rot.
If you cross the U.S. Border illegally you get
A job,
A drivers license,
Social security card,
Welfare,
Food stamps,
Credit cards,
Subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house,
Free education,
Free health care,
A lobbyist in Washington
Billions of dollars worth of public documents printed in your language
The right to carry your country's flag while you protest that you don't get enough respect
And, in many instances, you can vote.
I just wanted to make sure I had a firm grasp on the situation
Comment: #2
Posted by: David Henricks
Wed Mar 17, 2010 11:39 AM
You are obviously smart in terms of advocacy politics, and this is a well written argument, but your critique is short sighted. I think about the healthcare lessons. Clinton tried to pas healthcare in 1992, and its barely now passing (2010). The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was originally proposed in similar form since the 1950s, perhaps sooner. For us to not march now is to entirely give up on the process for a generation. In order to keep our issue alive, we need to do this every year, in a big way, until it passes, and we need to show that we will not give up. Be a thorn in the side every year, maybe even escalate to civil disobedience or offer pro0immigrant challengers year in and year to both democrats and republicans. One year, one day, god will bless our efforts and we CIR will happen, but I think it is convenient of you to sit on the sidelines and critique when many of us have been and will continue to fight year in and year out so when the opportunity presents itself, we are able to strike.

Comment: #3
Posted by: Juan Jose Gonzalez
Wed Mar 17, 2010 1:53 PM
In an imperfect world, sometimes we must fight hardest for the broadview, the general history of a nation, a culture, a religion. From this perspective, which nation provides the most liberty, the most opportunity, the most safety to any culture or religion? The answer is the United States....as in, the group of territories in North America that operate on a rule of law as defined by the U.S. Constituion. We have "progressed' away from that rule of law, to what I don't know. As an advocate for Latino immigrants, Mr. Perez, please keep an eye toward what makes people take great risks to come here. It is not socialism, La Raza(?), or heathcare. By no means is the U.S. perfect, but from the broadview, like the Mics, Spics, and Degos before them, the "Wetbacks" think this group of territories pretty much is the best deal out there.

Bring on the legal immigrants, please! Be an advocate for them! But also make sure your efforts don't diminish their sacrifice to better themselves and their families by destroying this land. Racism is a world wide reality, but freedom and personal liberty are not.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Billy Maguire
Thu Mar 18, 2010 5:04 AM
Re: David Henricks
lets' see..if you are Mexican and cross the border into the USA..
over 5600 undocumented Mexican workers have lost their lives crossing the US border dying agonizing deaths in the sonoran desert..
Comment: #5
Posted by: CHICANO-future tense
Fri Mar 19, 2010 6:40 AM
Re: CHICANO-future tense. That is sad. Seriously, sad. However, you don't get the fact that "undocumented immigrants/workers" is a euphemesim for criminal invaders. They. broke. the. law. to. get. here.
Comment: #6
Posted by: David Henricks
Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:02 AM
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