Obama Discriminates

By Miguel Perez

May 13, 2014 6 min read

Our national Latino leaders still dance around it. They come close to saying it, but they still won't admit it. So I'll say it for them: The Obama administration discriminates against Latino immigrants.

Clearly, that should have been the conclusion of a new study that showed while 75 percent of undocumented immigrants are Latinos, 97 percent of those deported in 2013 were from Mexico, Central America or South America.

But when a group of national Latino organizations released the study's findings, instead of blasting President Barack Obama for discriminating against Latino immigrants, they kept playing softball with the president, saying only that Latino immigrants are "disproportionally deported" and calling again on Obama's deaf ears.

"We are calling on the president for executive action," said Hector Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a collection of 37 major Latino organizations. "President Obama has the authority to halt deportations using various forms of prosecutorial discretion and has the authority to expand affirmative relief."

Of course, Latino leaders have been calling on Obama to do this for years — to no avail.

Some of these leaders last week acknowledged that Obama has an "obsession with deportations" that are "devastating" Hispanic communities all over the nation. Their report recognized that soon Obama will have deported 2 million immigrants, and "the number of Latino deportees will equal the populations of Wyoming, Vermont, and North Dakota combined." It acknowledged that this is "a direct result of discriminatory policies at the federal state and local" levels. And yes, they even called it "a civil rights crisis."

But instead of saying, "Mr. President, you are discriminating and, as our first black president and alleged civil rights leader, you should be ashamed," they keep pitching him softballs. Instead of telling him, "We thought you were our friend, we got people to vote for you, and you betrayed us," instead of giving Obama the scolding he deserves, they keep hoping the president will react to the same pleas he hasn't heard for years.

"Enough is enough," Sanchez said. Unfortunately, since pro-immigrant advocates have been using that hollow threat for years, it only proves that our Latino leaders have no leverage left with the president and that nothing will change until they have the courage to really challenge Obama and the Democratic Party.

Like a typical Democrat, Obama obviously assumes that as long as Republicans keep alienating Latinos with draconian anti-immigrant measures in Congress and at the state level, Democrats can keep winning the Latino vote by default in upcoming elections.

Why bother working for the Latino vote, Democrats ask themselves, when you can get it for free?

Somehow, Latino leaders need to show the president and his fellow Democrats that there will be a price to pay for continuing to take the Latino vote for granted and earning it without doing anything to deserve it.

And last week was a missed opportunity to do just that.

When Latino leaders came up with those figures showing Obama's discrimination to be self-evident, instead of repeating "enough is enough," they needed to cast a strong vote of no confidence against Obama and his fellow Democrats. Unfortunately, many of those same leaders are too closely engaged to the Democratic Party to even consider taking such a radical position.

They don't seem to understand that you gain no leverage with politicians by begging for compassion but by showing how you can hurt them at the ballot box.

We have reached the point where much more radical alternatives are needed, and unless they are willing to really lead, much more radical leaders, too.

Unfortunately, this sad scenario is not likely to change until new and much more independent leaders begin using Obama's alarming deportation statistics — and his discrimination against Latino immigrants — to turn Latinos against the Democratic Party.

Don't get me wrong: Latinos are used by Democrats and abused by Republicans. Most Republicans are much less deserving of the Latino vote than most Democrats. But Latino voters will get no respect as long as we keep voting for the lesser of two evils.

This sad scenario will remain until Latinos unite behind a third-party candidate to send a strong message to both Democrats and Republicans, or until our leaders organize a campaign to keep the Hispanic vote at home on Election Day.

I know, this sounds terribly unrealistic, especially since the same leaders who claim to be fed up with Obama's deportations will soon be encouraging us to vote for another Democrat.

But I can dream, can't I?

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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