By Elvira Arellano
I think it is time to bring the reserves into the immigration battle!
Congressman Gutierrez, on behalf of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus began his 20 city “Familias Unidas 2”in Providence, Rhode Island, and Boston, Massachusetts last week. This week he will go to Houston, Austin and Dallas Texas. And then on Wednesday, April 13th, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will meet with President Obama.
At that meeting, the caucus will hear the President’s first response to their request that the President use his lawful and legally authorized powers to grant relief to the parents of 5.1 million U.S. citizen and dream act eligible children so that they can work and stay legally with their families.
The Congressman has clarified that they are not asking the President to issue a special executive order that undermines the authority of Congress. In fact, this administration has issued thousands of “parole in place” classifications to undocumented individuals over the last two years. Currently, someone is eligible for “parole in Place” if their deportation would cause a hardship on a U.S. citizen. Parole in place has been issued to the spouses of men and women in the service and to thousands of others at the discretion of the President to define “hardship”.
What greater example of hardship can you imagine than for a nine year old boy or girl to have to grow up without their mother or father? What is a greater hardship than for a young boy or girl to be scarred for life by the sight of their mother or father being dragged away from them by armed men in the early hours of the morning? My son Saulito still wakes in the night to dreams of that real nightmare!
The United States of America either believes in family – or it does not. The President has it within his legal authority to keep families together, to prove to the world that the U.S. respects the human dignity of those who contribute to its economy, including their right to family, their right to raise their children.
That brings me to our invitation to Gutierrez. After Gutierrez and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus finish their 20 city tour in the United States, we would like to invite him to tour the countries of Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean. Latin America is the largest trading partner of the U.S. The President just returned from Brazil and El Salvador to stress the importance of those relationships.
But what kind of relationship does the U.S. hope to have with the nations of Latin America is it mistreats, criminalizes and disrespects the human rights of its citizens? Because of the realities of the U.S. anchored global economy, millions of workers from Latin America ended up working in the United States. Workers are human beings, not machines that can be imported and then thrown away. While they were in the United States they formed families = of ten with U.S. citizen spouses – and children were born and raised there. The U.S. must face the reality that one of the consequences of its multi-national economy and its recruitment and use of labor from Latin America is the “Bi-national family.”
Moreover, the countries of Latin America, who receive millions in remittances, must be made to defend the human rights, the rights to family unity, of these bi-national families and children. There are millions of us in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean who have families in the United States and many who have U.S. Citizen children who have been de facto deported from the United States along with their parents – and we will make our voices heard!
So we invite Congressman Gutierrez – if President Obama still won’t keep his promise and use the lawful authority given to him to stop the separation of families – to join us in the nations of the south. We will demand that our governments stand up to the inhuman treatment of our bi-national families. They did not create the system of undocumented labor. They simply survived within it and tried to preserve the life and the families that God gave them.
Perhaps, President Obama, China would be a better trading partner for the nations of the south. Perhaps, President Obama, we will choose not to buy products from the United States. As you think over and consider the proposal of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Mr. President, imagine the million people who will gather to hear Congressman Gutierrez in the Zocolo in Mexico City and to demand that our families in the U.S.be treated with dignity.
Congressman Gutierrez, consider yourself invited!