San Diegans Speak Out Against the President’s Unwillingness to Help the Latino Community
By Brent E. Beltrán
Latinos throughout the United States woke up yesterday morning to the news that President Obama had decided not to use his executive powers to push immigration reform forward until after the November election.
For months the President has said he would do whatever he could to implement reforms for millions of undocumented immigrants in the US. He kept the Latino community’s hopes up only to have those hopes crushed in an act of political cowardice.
Once again the President, whose administration has deported more people than any other President in American history (over 2.2 million!), has chosen to play politics while undocumented immigrants continue to live in fear of being kicked out of the country.
After receiving the news of his decision to delay action I reached out through Facebook to numerous San Diego immigrant rights activists and others interested in this vital issue to the Latino community. The following are the responses I received.
“The President’s decision to delay administrative action is an affront not only to millions of immigrant families, but to southern border communities as well. Today the White House joined Congress in turning their backs on millions of immigrants and border residents. To put electoral politics before the needs of millions of people is unacceptable. Southern border residents have paid a high-toll for the abusive and inhumane immigration system. Cases of deadly shootings and abuses committed by Customs and Border Patrol agents continue to be unresolved, hundreds of migrants perish in the deserts and mountains of the southern border and refugee families endure deplorable conditions in detention centers. This takes place while tens of millions of border residents continue to face unconstitutional practices by federal agents. Patience is running out.”
– Christian Ramirez, Director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition Director
“President Obama’s announcement that he will delay delivering relief and hope to millions of families in this country, thus putting partisan politics before the values that he espouses is frustrating beyond words. It is my hope that this new delay fires up a massive movement for immigrant civic participation across the country. We need to hold all of our representatives accountable.”
– Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director of the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties
“President Obama’s inaction on taking executive action on immigration issues is no surprise, but follows a continued abandonment on his promises for humane immigration policies. Instead, his administration has supported unfair and dangerous immigration enforcement projects that continue to separate families, push hard-working families into despair, and seek to militarize border communities.”
– Pedro Rios, Director of the US/Mexico Border Program of the American Friends Service Committee
“This decision, along with ongoing wars and militarization of local PDs, cement not only President Obama’s legacy but the broader Congress’ shift towards increasingly fascistic tendencies that have been accepted under the complementary ruse of homeland security and the country being post-racial.”
– Roberto Hernandez, professor of Chicano Studies
“Ms. Cristina Jimenez, the managing director for United We Dream was quoted today claiming that: ‘The president’s latest broken promise is another slap to the face of the Latino and immigrant community’ and I say it is more than that. It is an action that outright rejects the human dignity of immigrants and their rights to exist as thriving and contributing citizens in our nation. The Obama administration claims this issue is “extremely politicized” – justifying their decision not to act – but they have to realize that their decision is even more politicized and it sends a clear message that the Latin@ immigrant community does not matter in contemporary America.”
– Alberto Lopez Pulido, professor of Ethnic Studies
“Being cynical on Obama’s part is easy as long as Latino voters remain snug in the hip pocket, no matter what he does; history tell us that when a bloc of voters become volatile, the parties will act to restore the loyalty of the voters by making concessions, but are Latino voters willing to heed that lesson?”
– Isidro Ortiz, professor of Chicano Studies
“I feel that this decision is more of the same. It’s a decision that forces people like me to take action on the front lines to help these people who are coming here. It is very sad, very disappointing and extremely frustrating that the administration cannot see the situation for what it is, a complete and total disaster, and have the fortitude to do what is correct. We are in a world of elected officials who care nothing about their constituents. Our government is broken from the top to the bottom. This decision is more of the same. Shameful. The president just showed weakness, and it will probably hurt him and his party in the next election cycle.”
– Mark Lane, business owner/refugee activist
“If Obama focused more on who actually supported and voted for him more than giving into his enemies and those who’ve propped him up to represent their interests, he’d find it easier to take a stand on critical issues like immigration.”
– Ernie McCray, writer/activist/educator
“A large part of our working class, our service workers, agricultural workers, the parents of Dreamers and those that did not meet the age requirement for DACA will have to remain in the shadows due to political nonsense. It is a disgrace and a slap in the face to all of those who believed in Obama’s promises of hope.”
– Vanessa Ceceña, social worker/writer
“While some may be outraged by Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration reform until after the November elections, it is of no surprise that political interests are yet again placed above the dignity and worth of people’s lives. While I understand the urgency that executive action on this issue has, particularly for those who are on the verge of deportation, my rage is directed at the reform itself. The reform is composed of four principles: border security, earned citizenship, streamlining legal immigration, & sanctions for employers hiring people who are undocumented. Although migration to the U.S. has plummeted over the last decade, Obama proposes to continue the increase of militarization to border region. Not only is that a waste of money, but it maintains the idea that the border should be treated as a warzone where undocumented brown bodies are the targets and those of us who have been tagged as ‘documented’ brown bodies and are caught between the cross-fires can be cast-off as collateral damage. Earned citizenship calls for people who have no money, to pay a bunch of money in order to gain provisional legality, only to pay more money in penalty fees to then be able to pay taxes, while ‘waiting in the back of the line’ for lawful permanent status with no access to welfare or other federal benefits. This kind of backwards thinking only serves to heighten the humanitarian crisis we are already facing here at the border. The sleeping giant is awake, and so are its primos and tias and comadres and the whole familia. Democrats and Republicans alike, marvel at the idea of having the sleeping giant by their side, but as part of the sleeping/waking giant familia, all I can say is that without respect for human dignity and all our relations we will continue to look out for ourselves.”
– Monica Hernandez, artivist
President Obama and the Democrats are playing a dangerous game by taking the Latino vote for granted. The politics that they are playing may end up hurting them more than helping. If they don’t do something soon to help the millions of undocumented immigrants in the US Latinos may end up staying home on election day.