Obama and Immigration Reform - Don't hold your breath
- Ruiz: President has promised quick action on immigration reform, but has not delivered
Obama has the power to sign an executive order halting deportations of immigrants with no criminal records, but despite persistent demands from immigrant advocates, he has not done so.
By Albor Ruiz
New York Daily News
February 16, 2013
Obama: Stop all deportations — Humane legalization now." "Estamos con ustedes, no pierdan la esperanza (We are with you, don't lose hope)."
Those were the messages painted on two banners spread on a building across from the detention center in Los Angeles last Wednesday. They faced the windows of the cells where hundreds of undocumented immigrants are being held. And they were a powerful denunciation of the sad disconnect between the President's words and his actions.
That's why, at the risk of being called a party pooper, I am not joining just yet the conga line dancing to the immigration reform tune.
"I'm here today because the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said Monday in Las Vegas. "The time is now."
We couldn't agree more.
The problem is that immigrants have heard similar words many times before and what they got instead was a record number of deportations that left thousands of families torn apart.
"President Obama sounded good, but misspoke when he said most people he is deporting were ‘criminals.' Nobody is asking President Obama to support policies that are ‘badly broken,'" said Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, a national online Latino advocacy group. "No polls of Latinos say we want ‘smarter enforcement' that wastes more taxpayer dollars to pad the incredibly bloated budget of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE)."
Incredibly bloated is right, as a recent report by the Migration Policy Institute makes clear.
Although the President spoke of "common sense" immigration reform, that quality, so far, has been noticeably absent from Washington. Just think that in the 2012 budget year the administration spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement programs, about $3.6 billion higher than the combined budgets of the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Secret Service.
In other words, the government invests a lot more on stopping gardeners, nannies and cooks from crossing the border, or imprisoning and deporting them, than in prosecuting murderers, terrorists and drug dealers, not to mention rogue bankers and Wall Street wise guys who pushed the nation to the brink of bankruptcy. Talk about warped priorities.
There are those who say this time is different because the GOP has shifted gears after the beating it took in the last election. Republicans have grudgingly realized — they say — that they'd better jump onto the reform bandwagon if they want to ever again have a minimal claim to the Hispanic vote. That much is true.
But it's hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Even after the MPI report has shown that the border has never been more "secure," some Republicans — Cuban-American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) prominently among them — seem intent on committing hara-kiri: They insist on making their support for reform contingent on "border security."
Unfortunately for Rubio and others like him, manipulating Hispanics is not so easy anymore. Latinos are well aware that for Republicans "border security" is just another name for more persecution and repression.
Deportations, though, will continue unabated while the immigration reform debate goes on. "I am not a king," Obama told Univision in an interview last Monday, and no moratorium on deportations will be implemented.
But the President doesn't need to be a king to implement a moratorium. He has the power to sign an executive order to halt the deportations of immigrants with no criminal record. He did it for DREAMers, advocates say, and he can do it to end the cruel separation of immigrant families.
As the Los Angeles banners shouted to the nation, "Obama: Stop all deportations — Humane legalization now."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/albor-ruiz-obama-dragging-feet-immigration-reform-article-1.1252733#ixzz2L73qszka
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