No Backbone, No Pozole
By Elvira Arellano
For the last three years of the Obama administration, the movement took on the President’s single minded campaign to deport more people than President Bush. The movement battled against the secure communities act and refused to accept the President’s argument that he did not have the executive authority to stop deportations of parents of U.S. citizen children. The President’s plan was to blame the Republicans in Congress for the deportations. He hoped that the Latino community would forget that during his first year in office he had democratic super majorities in both the House and the Senate and could have passed comprehensive immigration reform with only democratic votes – in the same way that he got his health insurance reform bill passed!
By August of last year, largely through the efforts of Congressman Gutierrez and his grassroots movement, the President was forced to admit he did have the authority to “use his discretion” to give relief from deportation to at least some of those caught in the Homeland Security dragnet.
With the Republican nominee for President taking a totally uncompromising position to deport everyone without papers and the election drawing closer, Homeland Security is pulling back on the President’s promise to limit deportation to those with serious criminal records, evidently in an attempt to show statistics that are “tough” on the undocumented. At the same time, the White House has put well known pro-immigrant advocates on staff and is going through the motions – again – of preparing a comprehensive immigration reform bill for his second term. Next week, the White House will call in its own careful list of “activists” to confirm the President’s good intentions – for his next term in office.
I have a warning for those who are on the White House list. We are watching you. If you don’t come out of that meeting with a commitment to stop the separation of families and the deportation of those who have been raised in this country since they were children, then you need to walk out of that meeting and condemn the President for continuing to deport more people than any other President in history. If you don’t fight, you may continue to get grants but you will not be welcomed back into the community.
Why should we continue to fight, even when we are so close to the election battle with a candidate like Romney who holds up the Arizona law as a model for the nation?
Reason #1: If Obama will not use his authority to stop the deportation of parents of U.S. citizen children when they have been racially profiled and given traffic tickets, then he will not fight for those same people to be able to gain legalization in any bill he would support in the second term. His use of his executive authority now will show us who he will include in a legalization in his second term. We have to set the standard.
Reason #2: Obama is still not telling us the truth. He has said that he can only use his discretion to stop deportations on a case by case basis. Yet, previous presidents used their authority to stop the deportations of all Cubans before legislation was passed. The President could simply order that no parent of a U.S. citizen child and no dream act eligible young person will be deported.
Reason #3: Those who are deported, separated from their families or from the only lives they have ever known, will most likely never be allowed to return legally. We need to insure that no permanent damage is done until the broken immigration system is fixed.
Reason #4: If the President continues to deport more people than any other president, and if he continues to expand the secure communities act and the 287g program which encourage and legitimize racial profiling, then why should the Republicans ever agree to immigration reform: they are already getting everything they want!
Reason #5: We should continue to fight because it is the best way to get him elected and defeat Romney. The people that would vote against Obama because he stops separating families and deporting dreamers are going to vote against him anyway. On the other hand, the millions of Latino voters who had a member of their family or a close friend deported are unlikely to stand in line at the polls. We should continue to fight so that Obama can be elected in spite of his record of broken promises.
Reason #6: We should learn from history. The civil rights movement took their fight right to the floor of the democratic convention in 1964. I mean they shut that convention down. They not only elected a democratic president that year, but they passed the civil rights and voting rights bills a few years later.
So when you go to the White House next week, don’t drink the tea and expect your mother to make pozole for you when you come home.