LatinaLista — While delivering his budget speech yesterday, President Obama correctly predicted that he would be criticized for it. He was. But it was one particular criticism from his political opponents that made some people do a double-take on the speech.
According to some GOP politicians, they claim that President Obama was delivering a speech less about the budget as he was jumpstarting his 2012 campaign.
Though Obama is in Chicago today trying to rally independent and liberal voters, he needs to turn his attention to the Latino community, especially Latino youth, if he wants a repeat of the same election momentum he had in 2008.
Yet, aside from an appearance on Univision focused on education, he’s staying pretty clear of Latino voters. Could be because, without the formality of a tv studio, most Latinos wouldn’t feel obliged to be too respectful in pointing out that Obama’s administration has the worst record so far in deporting undocumented immigrants and overseeing a Department of Homeland Security, some of whose ICE agents have been accused repeatedly of abusing their authority.
If Obama goes into his re-election campaign assuming that Latinos think he’s the best alternative to a GOP opponent, he could have a big surprise. It’s not that Latinos would vote for his opponent; they just won’t vote at all.
There’s still time for Obama to make amends with the Latino community. In fact, yesterday, 22 of his senate party colleagues sent him a letter explaining how to do just that. Signers to the letter ranged from Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Barbara Boxer to Sen. John Kerry and Diane Feinstein.
Twenty-two senators signed their names to a letter asking President Obama to grant deferred action to all young undocumented immigrants who meet the criteria of the DREAM Act.
Separately, Sen. Schumer sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outlining the same request.
It won’t be a popular decision if President Obama does it. It will be exactly the kind of ammunition the GOP and Tea Party will pounce on as a gift from above to ensure their political wins in 2012.
The political and anti-immigrant rhetoric denouncing him and labeling him an “amnesty-lover” will no doubt reach fever pitch levels. It could endanger his reelection bid, for sure.
Yet if Obama doesn’t do it, a second win will mean nothing to all those in the Latino community who believed, supported and campaigned for him wholeheartedly in 2008.
If he doesn’t do it, he risks not only alienating a whole new generation of Latino voters but disillusioning them enough that they will always equate political victory with not keeping inconvenient promises.
If he doesn’t do it, he will be forever remembered as the candidate who did promise specific things to Latino voters and failed to see any of those promises come to reality.
If he doesn’t do it, he condemns the dreams and lives of hundreds of promising young people who know no other country but the United States as their home.
If he doesn’t do it, he’s no better than his opponents who lack vision, courage and common sense to see that deporting young people, who have done nothing wrong and who have been shaped by the values and education of the U.S., does nothing more than leave a hole in our nation’s future — both from a humanitarian perspective and an economic one.
As someone commented on a blog post at America’s Voice, “Considering all of the discussion today about the Federal budget and the national debt, it seems sensible to create more responsible _taxpaying_ citizens.”
There is a renewed push on behalf of DREAMers. Those who believe that these young people deserve to be allowed to stay here are being asked to sign a petition to show their support — and show that “si se puede” is much, much more than a campaign slogan.