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Latino grassroots campaigns are missing pieces of the immigration reform puzzle

LatinaLista– The popular consensus among some in the Latino community fighting for immigrant rights is that the Obama administration and the Democrats are not doing enough to bring about immigration reform, help undocumented students, keep families from being separated, etc.


If a moratorium can be issued by the White House regarding offshore drilling, some wonder why can’t a moratorium be issued for deporting students. (It was asked and rejected.)

So, it’s not surprising that most think Obama and the Democratic Party have abandoned their promises of passing comprehensive immigration reform. Yet, there have been small signs that Democrats are doing something.

The first sign was last week at Sen. Schumer’s New York office when he stopped to speak to some students who were staging a sit-in protesting lack of action on immigration reform and the DREAM Act in his office reception area. The senator stopped and spoke to them and could be heard on a video, that was being filmed by a network camera, say something to the effect that he’s trying to find GOP support and for the students to help him.

He also appeared frustrated in the video when speaking to the students — probably more so because they set up camp at his front door but he did seem genuinely frustrated that the students thought he wasn’t doing anything.

Sen. Durbin, who has long been advocating for immigration reform and undocumented students, contacted Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to spare deportation from Eric Balderas the Harvard student.

And then there’s the President.

President Obama now finds himself fighting the GOP again. Yet it has nothing to do with BP but border security.

According to news reports, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), the second-ranking Senate Republican, accuses the President of saying he would not act to secure the U.S. border with Mexico until Congress acts to provide undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship.

The White House is blatantly denying the accusation and with good reason — it’s not true.

From Obama’s past actions of giving into GOP demands to send more National Guard troops to the border as a way to appease them to come on board with sponsoring immigration reform, it makes little sense that Obama would voice such an either-or proposition.

The likelier scenario is that Kyl twisted the meaning of whatever was said to drum up more outrage and controversy towards Obama and the White House among ultra conservatives who harbor the delusion of rounding up 12 million people to send south across the border.

The notion that the GOP will come on board in this legislative season is not a realistic expectation and one that most in the Latino community see for themselves. It’s no wonder that there is frustration on both sides but the Obama administration and the Democratic Party are forgetting a very important political weapon — the very one that got him elected.

During the presidential campaign, the Democratic Party made people care about the election because they provided instructions at the grassroots level on how to get Obama elected. The Party didn’t solely rely on Washington organizations. They reached out to people, talked to them, emailed them and explained what it would take to win the election — and Latinos responded.

The same is needed for this issue. It’s not that people don’t care but no one from the Party or the White House is talking directly to communities on how to help, what to do, who to call.

In all honesty, it makes little sense to stage a hunger strike or sit-in protest in the offices of a senator who has pledged to work on immigration reform. It would have meant more to have staged the protest in the offices of a senator who refuses to support immigration reform or the DREAM Act.

There is energy, passion and commitment in the Latino community to work on immigration reform but until the Democratic Party takes a page from their dusty playbook, and create the same strategy as they did for the presidential election, frustration will continue to mount between Democratic congressional reps and the White House and Latinos who want to help and are only waiting to be told how to do it.

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  • Emma
    June 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

    The harsh truth is that Obama is not willing to expend any political capital on immigration reform. The Dems control 59 Senate seats and they have a sizeable majority in the House. And there are several moderate Republicans who are retiring in November and some could be convinced to support immigration reform. The problem is that Obama refuses to lead on immigration reform. He only wants the Latino vote, then it is “You are on your own amigos”.

  • kyledeb
    June 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

    It makes a lot of sense if the Democrats supposedly interested in helping you out aren’t committed to allowing the DREAM Act to pass this year.
    Why go after Republicans for the DREAM Act if Democrats aren’t even going to allow it to come up for a vote?

  • Loren
    June 22, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Marisa I agree that we need to start targeting more conservative public officials, but the fact of the matter is that the legislative window to pass DREAM is closing and we need to start being strategic about what we do. Senator Schumer is in a strategic position to push more aggressively for DREAM as stand alone (something that he has been hesitant to do).

  • Marisa Treviño
    June 22, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    kyledeb, I can’t say with certainty (yet) that Democrats aren’t willing to work on DREAM Act or immigration reform. I’m not privy to what is being done behind the scenes. Though I don’t like Schumer’s plan for immigration reform thus far, I can’t say he’s not working on it.

  • Bettybb
    June 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    The problem is the Latino community is being played.
    Dems and Repubs elite dangle the possibilty of amnesty, knowing full well Americans will never go for it.
    A post election Zogby Poll of Obama voters, those who voted for Obama, found 67% did not support a pathway to citizenship. And those are Demcorats!
    Poll after independant poll,( versus the “commisioned” polls by pro amnnesty forces,) that by a large margin Americans do not agree with giving people who have broken the law preferential immigration treatment over people who have played by the rules.
    So the fact is, America thinks legalization demands are profoundly unjust and violate our notions of equality under the law.
    Yet the politicians are cyncially still pandering to the pro amnesty Latino vote.
    But no politicans is going to go against 2/3rds of the electorate.

  • Angel
    June 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    “If a moratorium can be issued by the White House regarding offshore drilling,……..”
    Because federal employees are sworn to uphold the Constitution of the US, and by extension, its implementing laws. That may not seem important to you, except when they work in your favor, it is important to the rest of us. Besides, Obama wouldn’t want to risk the vast majority of citizens who would have serious issues with such an act. It would seem that you and your like-minded friends need a lesson in ethics. By the way, the court found no merit in Obama’s argument to establish a moratorium on drilling.

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