By Elvira Arellano
There was a commercial on television that my son Saulito and I used to like very much – and which we gave our own personal interpretation. In the commercial. 9 men are sitting around a restaurant table in suits. One of them gets some food stuck in his throat and is choking. He is turning blue because he can’t breate. The men in suits begin to discuss who should respond to this emergency. One proposes setting up a commission. Another suggests setting up a task force to develop the commission. Meanwhile the man is choking to death. Finally a man comes from another table and performs a Heimlich manouever on the man and dislodges the food from his thrat so he can breathe again.
Myosn and I , when we were in sanctuary, compared this commercial to our own situation. The congress had committee meetings. The Senate passed a bill but the House delayed action. The President set up a commission to study the immigration problem. Meanwhile, we waited in the church for someone to stop my deportation and separation frm my U.s. citizen son.
Today, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has a scheduled meeting with President Obama. Led by Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Senator Bob Melendez, the caucus has submitted a proposal to President Obama. The Congress is stalemated on dealing with immigration reform because of the Repubican takeover of the House of Representatives. Meanwhile, 1100 people are being deported every day. Over one million have been deported since President Obama took office, the great majority with no criminal records, the great majority with families.
The Caucus has asked the Prsident to use his legal and lawful powers as President to grant the status of “parole in place” to the parents of U.S. citizen and dream act eligible children and to the dreamers and their parents. This status could be granted to those with no criminal records and would give them to remain in the country legally with their families with a work permit.
The President does not need acton from Congress to do this. It is within his “discretionary power” as President to interpret the law to keep our families together. We have learned that the President is reluctant to use the power we elected him to use. In fact, before the press conference announcing this initiative, the President personally called several members of congress asking them not to go to the press conference.
It is clear that the President has the authority to grant this status to millions of people, ending the suffering that comes from the separatin of families and keeping his campaign promise to our community. His own Department of Homeland Security has produced a memorandum documenting his power to use his discretion in this way.
The President has used his discretion to bomb Libya – without asking anybody. He has used his discretion to expand the secure communities act and the 287g program to thousands of communities around the country. He has used his discretion to expand the e-verify program. We just want a little balance. We just want him to keep his promise.
President obama has a chance to be a hero in our community. Like the man in the commercial, he can step in and save the day while others are arguing and setting up commissions to study the problem.
On the other hand, if the President does not act then the responsibility for separation of our families and the destruction of the lives of our young people will fall squarely on his shoulders.
No more excuses. No more blaming someone else. President Obama, we are watching what you will do today. And we will remember.