LatinaLista — The White House released an announcement today that they have begun the dialogue on fixing our broken immigration system — again.
This time, without any prior announcement, the White House convened a meeting for today with 30 individuals to talk about:
…the importance of fixing the broken immigration system for our nation’s 21st century economic and security needs so that America can win the future. The President will also discuss how we can work together to foster a constructive national conversation on this important issue as we work to build a bipartisan consensus in Congress.
The people invited to this meeting have been divided into two groups — Obama administration officials and “stakeholders” in the debate.
The list of stakeholders include:
Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals
Hon. Michael Bloomberg, City of New York
Bill Bratton, Former Police Chief, City of Los Angeles and City of New York
Hon. Julian Castro, Mayor, City of San Antonio
Secretary Michael Chertoff, Former Secretary Homeland Security
Governor John Engler, President and CEO, Business Roundtable
Hon. Eric Garcetti, City Council, President City of Los Angeles
Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, Former Secretary of Commerce
Raymond Kelly, Commissioner, New York City Police Department
Senator Mel Martinez, Former United States Senator/Chairman, Florida, Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean JP Morgan Chase
Greg Page, Chairman & CEO, Cargill
Secretary Federico Pena, Former Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Energy
John Podesta, CEO, Center for American Progress
Charles Ramsey, Chief of Police, City of Philadelphia/President, Major City Chiefs
Al Sharpton, President, National Action Network
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Former California Governor
Richard Trumka, AFL-CIO
John C. Wester, Bishop, Archdiocese of Salt Lake City
At first glance, some of the invited look like odd choices for such a discussion that should be moving the issue forward. A couple of the guests like Chertoff and Schwarzenegger can only talk about their experiences in the past — before Mexican cartel violence reached its current critical levels driving more Mexicans to seek asylum or just crossing over illegally to keep safe.
Others, like the COO of Facebook and the CEO of Cargill, seem too insulated in their corporate world to know about the broader issue. But as one colleague pointed out, they’re probably going to talk about the need for more H1-J1 visas.
However, in trying to gauge just how serious the administration is in dealing with the issue, it appears to be more telling of just who wasn’t invited to this meeting. For example, Rep. Luis Gutierrez who has been stumping around the country challenging Obama to do something to fix the broken immigration system.
If there was true intent to do something, why not invite your most vocal critic?
Also, what about those who work directly on a day-to-day basis with immigrants?
Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network released the statement, “While we appreciate the President’s effort to keep immigration reform on the national agenda, his actions belie his intent. We’re greatly disappointed that the meeting didn’t include more voices of immigrants at the table, including representatives of directly affected communities especially the people in the state of Arizona and Georgia where there is a modern day human rights crisis.
“If the President genuinely wanted to fix the broken immigration system, he would respond to the growing chorus of voices calling for the suspension of the secure communities program and move to legalize instead of further criminalize our immigrant communities.”
At any rate, while this meeting of minds, is a positive start, it means nada to potential Latino voters who voted for him last time based on his promise to repair the immigration system.
Basically, the time for talk has long passed.
Unless concrete actions result from this meeting — namely, the halt of overstepping authority by some ICE agents and the overzealousness to deport all undocumented immigrants, regardless of their criminal history, as laid out in the Secure Communities program, plus the willful separation of children from their parents — this is seen as merely an insincere action to stall for time to get votes.
Unfortunately for the White House, we have all traveled down this road together before. If there is a real desire to address this issue and hear the real stories of what this broken immigration system is doing to real people, why don’t they do what the GOP did a couple of years ago — set up small town hall meetings, this time bipartisan, with invited guests in various parts of the country and ask how these communities are being impacted.
The administration and politicians, thinking they know it all, will be blown away by what they don’t know. Most of these problems can be addressed immediately, and there’s no reason why they’re not now except there’s no political will to enforce policies that are humanitarian in scope but politically volatile.
The time has come to stop saying “Si se puede” and start saying “No más palabras.” (No more words.)