Those concerned with immigration reform, deportations, family separations, and unaccompanied minors surrendering at the southern border, are caught in a transfixed credibility debate about President Obama’s announcement to delay any decision to exercise executive action of administrative relief for the estimated 11 million undocumented migrants currently in the country.
After committing publicly at a White House press conference to make a decision by the end of the summer, Obama announced in early September that he would wait until after the midterm elections to decide what action to take. There is nothing conclusive indicating that any relief granted would be sweeping, bold, and inclusive – in any case. Everything about Obama’s trajectory tells us that it would be cautious, limited, and conflictive.
Immigrant rights activists have harshly criticized the president for one more broken promise. Republicans have denounced him as an opportunist for delaying his decision on electoral grounds and being an imperial executive usurping the legislative role of congress. Vulnerable Democratic Senators in tight competitive races and the Democratic Party leadership, fearful of a white voter backlash, gave off a big sigh of relief. And, administration insider and outsider apologists immediately lined up to defend their patron.
Sadly, Dolores Huerta is only the latest to try and pull Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire with her recent quote from a VOXXI.COM interview, “We have to look at the big picture and don’t get caught up in saying we want it now.” “…we are a community that can wait.” And, “we have to have faith in our president…” How ironic that she expresses no anger at the 70,000 to 100,000 more deportations Obama’s delay will provoke. Multi-millionaire Henry Cisneros, former Secretary of HUD under President Clinton, has repeatedly railed against immigrant advocates for demanding of the president “not one more deportation.” Disgraced and separated vice president of the Service Employees International Union, Eliseo Medina, has probably been the most protective of Obama at every turn. And, Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Domestic Policy Council, and Assistant to President Obama, has been the White House’s pit-bull in silencing critics of the deportation machine.
On the whole, Obama’s Latino defenders all have a financial stake in his regime. They are all recipients of largesse either from the administration directly or through his party or allied private foundations. They belong to the corrupt patronage system and have gladly accepted their proverbial role as house peons who run to save the master’s burning house faster than the master himself. The most immoral observation about their behavior is the lack of transparency about their personal moneyed interests and positions as they implicitly defend massive deportations of historic dimension.
The Congressional Hispanic Caucus for its part was incensed at its junior role in the jockeying for the president’s attention and shunted aside in deference to the conservative Democratic Senators. Almost two weeks to the day it finally issued a letter to the president calling on him to comply with his new promise, but refused to hold him to a date certain, and omitted to articulate any possible consequences for not acting before the year’s end. Muñoz met with the members prior to the letter’s release in an effort to placate them and caution against any overreach in their demands on her boss. Caucus members are feeling the heat from the streets by immigrant organizations in their respective districts and are deathly fearful of a lower than normal voter turnout for the elections.
There is a growing movement towards political independence away from both Democrats and Republicans, especially among younger voters and advocates. This is positive outcome of the controversy.
The demand for executive action by the president was not the product of mainstream funded groups, but of independent grassroots base organizations fed up with the legislative impositions emanating out of Washington D.C. Executive action became a necessity due to the impossibility of passing fair and humane immigration reform in the face of two million deportations and family separations, and 700,000 American minors exiled in Mexico with their deported Mexican parents. S.744, the bipartisan “comprehensive immigration reform” passed by the Senate last year, was nothing but a sop to big business and border enforcement xenophobes, and was light on equitable legalization for immigrants.
The National Coordinating Committee for Fair and Humane Immigration Reform 2014, in alignment with a growing independent movement of DREAMer and migrant-led organizations, advocates for immediate administrative relief and not waiting until after the midterms, unless the president suspends deportations for the duration of the delay. Migrant families should not pay the horribly high price for the party’s election anxieties. The relief must be sweeping and bold, and include all migrants contributing to the economic recovery of the country.
Absent such action, we recommend that Latino voters not support any Democratic or Republican candidate in the midterms that does not support an immediate end to deportations and relief, particularly in the five to nine toss-up Senate races of most concern to Democratic Party leaders. It is time to register as independent, and those already registered to re-register accordingly, forge an independent political electorate among Latino communities nationally, and make both parties work for our vote by every day addressing our problematic needs and interests as the largest non-white and fastest growing constituency in America.
We stand on the side of the millions of deportees and their families, and the millions more who still hold out hope for presidential action. Let the apologists be defined on the side of the deportation apparatus, while migrants judge their role in history. September 22, 2014.
The National Coordinating Committee 2014 for Fair and Humane Immigration Reform is an independent binational network of migrant worker and family grassroots organizations and coalitions that struggle for immigration reform according to the needs of our families in California, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Florida and Mexico.