(Readers, who have noticed my byline on op-eds (opinion editorials) in some print publications around the country, have asked why they can’t find them on Latina Lista. Well, now they can. On the left-hand side of the page, there is a new “Supplement” that I’ve dubbed, what else, “Op-eds.” The following op-ed is from last week.)
LatinaLista — You don’t have to be a professional pollster to know that the topic of immigration reform has slid down the ladder of urgent issues facing today’s voters. Rising gas prices, an unsteady job market and the war in Iraq are just a few of the issues that have displaced this volatile subject.
In fact, a recent Rasmussen Reports poll shows that immigration ranks only above abortion in the top ten issues that worry voters the most.
Some who advocate for undocumented immigrants might see this fall in the polls as a good thing, since it gives those people who feel persecuted a respite from all the harsh rhetoric targeting them. Not to mention, it adds ammunition to the argument that most Americans donâ€™t feel threatened by the presence of undocumented immigrants.
Yet, this low ranking in the polls is also troublesome because while it indicates that the average voter is faced with more dire problems, it also means that what is happening in regard to immigration enforcement and reform is on the backburner of getting noticed, and most importantly resolved.
This point was driven home to me in a recent e-mail I received from a woman. She had attended a panel discussion on immigration that I had been a part of in Austin, Texas at the national progressive bloggerâ€™s conference known as Netroots Nation.
Usually bloggers love these kinds of issues, like immigration, which are propelled by federal policy that donâ€™t make sense outside the Beltway. When there was some internal discussion about which direction the panel should take, it seemed a no-brainer to provide our audience with the details of what is triggering todayâ€™s outcry against Washingtonâ€™s immigration policy.
A large part of the protest entails how Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforces current immigration law. Itâ€™s not a pretty picture with surprise worksite raids, separation of families and the punitive detention of men, women and children at centers across the country.
This portion of the presentation fell to me to report and it is the part to which my e-mail-writer most objected and described as â€œdepressing.â€
According to her, she wanted a presentation that detailed how to win the public debate followed by a â€œlively discussionâ€ between panelists and the audience on how that would be achieved.
Instead, she wrote, â€œI will now drop thinking about immigration for a while, in favor of issues that Iâ€™m less depressed about, and perhaps come back in a month or later when I can stand to think about it again.â€
Iâ€™ll be the first to admit that the stories of ICE enforcement are not uplifting but I couldnâ€™t help but think what a luxury it is for this woman to be able to turn the issue off because she had enough of it.
The countless communities from Postville, Iowa to Houston, Texas to Bedford, Massachusetts to every town across the nation with large immigrant communities arenâ€™t that fortunate. They live with this issue daily and can only rely on people like the email-writer to force Congress to act before more communities are destroyed.
The email-writer was upset because the panel hadnâ€™t provided her with enough hope that things will be OK. Well, I just received the results of a straw poll conducted at the Netroots Nation on issues that the more than 2,000 progressive bloggers thought should be of the highest priority for the next administration â€” only 1 percent said illegal immigration was worthy of being a priority issue.
Itâ€™s hard to provide hope when thereâ€™s so little left.