Obama strikes again: no executive orders on immigration ‘till elections

Marcha de inmigrantes en favor de una reforma migratoria. Fresno 2006 (Foto: Eduardo Stanley)
Immigrants marching in Fresno, California,
April 2006, demanding an immigration reform.
(Photo: Eduardo Stanley)

On September 6, president Obama said he will postpone executive actions on immigration until after the November elections. This decision infuriated dozens of immigrants rights activists across the country.

And they are right, because the President made us believe he would do it. He threatened first to use executive orders, then he explained calmly what he would do it: the Republican paralysis on the immigration issue.

But as days passed by, one wondered why there wasn’t any action on this regard from the White House. We realized he was very busy planning next bombing, but still we expected something. After all these promises!

Finally, the action came: there’s not going to be any action!Wait… Did I hear right? What the…! Did Republicans prevailed? Or is it that some Democrats pushed this item beyond November, afraid of electoral results? This last reason sounds more likely the real thing.

Even more, some media reports indicates Obama is under pressure from within to completely drop the immigration issue because influential Democrats are afraid it could cost next election day dearly.

One thing is clear: Republicans made a fantastic job during all these years agitating the issue. Anti-immigrant sympathizers keep on marching, writing letters to the editors and to Congressmen/women expressing their strong —or fanatical— opposition to give “illegals” an “amnesty.” Running on the Tea Party bus, the anti-immigrant movement is alive and well.

Sounds like a good job to be a Republican Representative: somebody does the thinking and they just cash the checks.

Instead, Democrats are in hot water: they don’t know how to sell Latinos why they have’ve been betrayed once again by the President. Actually, Latinos aren’t buying much the blame game on Republicans.

But there is also another element on this equation: immigrants themselves. Where are they? Because this is not a Latino issue only. There are many other immigrants from non-Latino countries without legal residence.

Nevertheless, considering Latinos comprise the largest group among undocumented people, and that Latinos are the noisiest ones, it is commonly considered a Latino issue anything related to immigration.

Democrats brag about the Latino support they enjoy around the country, they go after us each election time —and we deliver meekly—, yet they don’t hesitate asking Obama to drop the immigration issue once for all.

This sounds very much like treachery, doesn’t it? Yes, very much. And we have to do something about it.

Options are limited because there is not an immigrant-based organization. Those organizations based on Washington, D.C. —such as National Council of La Raza— don’t represent immigrant’s interests. By the contrary, they are strongly associated to corporate money and interests under the form of grants and donations.

One wonder, with the growing Latino population, the raise of our purchasing power and political participation, where is our real power? Where are our influential Latino “role models?” We have one member of the cabinet, Julian Castro, Secretary of US Housing and Urban Development. But most importantly, we have the Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz, former officer at National Council of La Raza —Surprised?

Now, this is embarrassing! The Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council can’t lobby the White House on Latino issues? Ironically, “President Barack Obama will appoint Cecilia Muñoz, the administration’s lead liaison to the Hispanic community,” wrote politico.com on January 2012 regarding Muñoz’s appointment. Today such statement sounds like cruel joke.

Because now we know that Muñoz doesn’t have any influence or she is not interested on lobbying on behalf of Latino issues —being immigration one of the top ones— or she has no capacity to articulate at least part of the Latino agenda or message. By the way, let’s remember that the Obama administration has a historic record on deportations.

With friends like Muñoz…

But back to the lack of an organization. Immigrants paid a big price for not getting organized during or right after the immigrants marches of 2006 and 2007. This allowed those organizations from Washington, D.C. to take over —and politicians preferred that, of course.

Because of this, immigrants could not elaborate an agenda, create alliances and lobby Congress and those around power. Even worse, they divided themselves, weakening the movement. We didn’t learn from that experience, but we could now, if we get organized, get involved with an agenda and armed with lots of patience.

When a movement get into the mainstream, it gets absorbed, swallowed, loosing steam and energy. Yet, an immigrant-based organization could at least negotiated something better than a vague promise from Obama.

What really save Obama’s “prestige” for awhile was the excuse Republicans oppose any immigration reform, which is completely true. But now he ran out of excuses since Democrats are the ones opposing it, crying it could come at a high political cost.

One thing is real: Republicans don’t like us and Democrats like us only on election day —but don’t ask for anything in exchange!

While I am not very optimist about immigrants getting organized, I can propose something: on next presidential’s elections, don’t vote for president. Leave that part unmarked. Vote for your local candidates and, in California, don’t miss the propositions! But ignore the presidential one.

Because, what difference it makes?

At least, until there is a real option we can’t continue feeding Democrat’s electoral ambitions while they continue stubbing us in the back.

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