By Elvira Arellano
If you take away a people’s hope, you plant a demon in the souls of their children. So it was that Jesus met a man in Gerasia who had become violent towards everyone he knew – including himself. Jesus saw that a demon had possessed that man and, using his supreme authority, he demanded that the demon name himself and come out of the man. The demon said “my name is Legion.” The “Demon” was the Roman Legion, the Roman Army, who conquered, shamed and degraded the man and his people. When Jesus made the demon name itself, come out of the man and go into pigs, then the man was made free. He was no longer afraid of those who made him suffer. He no longer turned his anger towards himself and those he loved.
The first two years of the Obama administration in the Latino and immigrant community were guided by hope – the hope created by Obama’s campaign promise to bring the power of the democratic majorities in Congress to stop the separation of families and the permissive exploitation of migrant labor. The next two years will be different.
In his State of the Union Speech, the President gave lip service to immigration reform – and to the plight of the dream act students. Different from his campaign speeches, however, there was no time table. In fact there was no promise at all.
The President failed to even mention the fundamental human rights abuse of the broken immigration system – the unholy separation of families. This again was different from his campaign speeches in 2008 when he stated unequivocably that “the separation of a mother from her child is unacceptable in the United States of America.’
The Obama administration announced that it spent 5 billion dollars to deport almost 400,000 people last year. They left a trail of tears – a trail of broken families, broken hearts, lost homes and stolen futures.
If the President and his advisors believe the Latino community will accept their concession to the Republicans and wait patiently for the next election and vote again for the President, they are mistaken. The President’s state of the union message was a cold blooded attempt to withdraw his promise and take away our hope.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Latino organizations across the country are making it clear that the President has an alternative. The President has the legal authority to provide protection for the parents of the 5.1 million U.S. citizen and dream act eligble children in this country. The Campaign for American Children and Families will make that alternative completely clear in the next few months. Although the President failed miserably to keep his campaign promise to our community, he still has the power to deliver what he promised. There is no excuse for the withdrawal of his promise.
I notice that the U.S. President has been having a hard time joining his voice to the millions of Egyptians calling for their president to step down. They say there are many “political complexities” to the situation. Those Egyptians who suffered the abuse of their basic human rights were not moved by arguments of the “complexities of politics.” They knew who gave the orders – and they marched to stop him from giving those orders again.
Five million children must not grow up with a demon of hopelessness turning their anger inward at themselves – or their own community. The demon which grows even now in the frail bodies of five year olds as they watch their father or mother taken away in handcuffs by armed men – the name of that demon is “Migra”. If the adults and young men and women of our community are afraid to do what they have done in Egypt, then our children will pay the price of slavery to that demon for the rest of their lives.