Last weekend we heard the announcement by the White House that President Obama would not act on immigration reform using executive order. This was a huge disappointment to the 11 million undocumented Americans who have been waiting for promises to be kept for action on immigration. The president has been heavily criticized for not only failing to take action to pass a comprehensive immigration law, but also because of the number of deportations that have occurred on his watch.
The announcement came after weeks of President Obama promising to take any action he could without Congress within the confines of the law of executive order, by the end of the summer. Furthermore, it is also interesting the reasoning that the Obama administration made this decision. Vulnerable democrats in tough re-election races have asked the president to hold off on using executive action on this issue in fears that it would galvanize Republican voters and increase their turnout. This, during a midterm year that already tends to yield more republican voters since the president is not on the ballot, would not be good for the democrats control of the Senate.
Now the Real Talk…
While President Obama has vowed to act by the end of the year, just after the November general elections, he may very well have lost the support of the the Latino community due to the continuous punting of this particular issue. I can only imagine how frustrating it is for those families who are directly affected by the lack of action being taken by anyone in the federal government. Year after year, promises continue to be broken amid more promises that something will, indeed, take place eventually.
As an ally of the Latino community and all communities who are affected by the broken immigration system, I am extremely disappointed with the president. His lack of action and reasoning behind this lack of action is unacceptable as he is essentially playing politics with the lives of 11 million people. Many of the undocumented Americans that are affected by the mass deportation not only have been in the country since they were children, but they are also law-abiding and often times tax-paying citizens that deserve an opportunity to (and are eager to) do whatever it takes to gain official citizenship status.
But there are two main things to remember about this issue. While the Latino community is largely affected by this, we cannot forget that this is not a Latino-specific issue. Asian Americans and European Americans are also affected as undocumented citizens. Therefore, while the president is likely to take major heat from the Latino community, his actions affect many people from many different communities.
Second, while I’m a disappointed Barack Obama supporter with regards to this issue, I cannot ignore the role of the Congressional Republicans. The president has been calling on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform for years and they have failed to act. For example, in 2010, congress failed to support the federal DREAM Act. Earlier this year, the Senate passed an immigration bill but Speaker John Boehner failed to allow the bill to take a vote. If he did, it would probably pass with bipartisan support.
The blame goes everywhere and it is sad that in this country we cannot fix our immigration system in a way that helps those who have been in our country, and contributing to this nation in many ways, gain legal citizenship status. It is also disgusting that we can continue to not address a specific, important issue that affects so many lives solely for political purposes. It makes no sense that we continue to make ourselves look so bad – The United States of America: the land of opportunity, the land of the free and the home of the brave, an inclusive land that encourages all to come. This decision to not act further proves that even American does not always stand true to its values.
As a proud supporter of President Barack Obama, I am not ashamed to say in this instance, SHAME ON YOU, Obama!