By Elvira Arellano (Spanish follows)
When I was in Chicago, my organization, Familia Latina Unida, got involved in one very tough local election. At least half of us were undocumented and we wondered, how can we make a difference? We came up with the idea of the “solidarity vote.” We went door to door to find legal voters and we told them, “We can’t vote because we are undocumented, but this election is very important to our families. Will you vote for us? Will you be our “solidarity vote?”
President Obama has the legal power to stop separation of families that are caused by the deportation of 1100 people every day. Congressman Gutierrez was in New York last week-end and has been in 30 cities across the country to ask people to tell President Obama to stop destroying our families and deporting our young students. We need to help the president make up his mind to keep his promise. I think the “solidarity vote” might just be what we need!
In Chicago, last Monday, a hundred young people planted themselves outside of Obama’s national campaign office registering people to vote and asking them to fill out “an Obama ballot” and then put it in a giant “lockbox”. They told the Obama campaign officials that those votes would stay in the lockbox until Obama stopped the deportations.
There are 11 million undocumented persons in this nation today. They came here because of the policies of global economics and were welcomed here by employers. They are our family members, our neighbors, members of our churches and our communities and they are contributing to this nation’s economic recovery.
There are 7 million legal permanent residents who are eligible to become citizens and registered voters before the next presidential election.There are at least three million U.S. Citizens, over the age of 18, who have a member of their extended family who is undocumented. There are one million U.S. Citizen Latinos who will turn 18 an be eligible to vote before the next presidential election. This is the math, Mr President: 7 million new citizens + three millions citizen family members + one million new 18 year old latino voters = 11 million. That is the Latino family solidarity vote – Mr. President: 11 million solidarity voters for 11 million undocumented residents.
We can at least register 2 million new voters who will put their vote in the “Obama Lockbox”. These Obama votes will not come out of the lockbox unless the president uses his existing legal powers to stop the deportations and separation of families by granting hardship relief to the parents of U.S. Citizen children and dream act eligble students. Mr President, are you listening? This is what democracy looks like !