LatinaLista — The President delivered a long awaited policy speech on immigration reform today in El Paso to an audience, who was as enthusiastic and happy to see him, as they were forgiving overall at his lack of progress on the issue.
However, being border residents, they knew firsthand the real impact of one of the most contentious elements of immigration reform — border security, and so can’t be blamed for delivering the only boo during the President’s 30-minute speech when he boasted about finishing the wall.
President Obama speaks before a crowd of 2000 at El Paso’s Chamizal National Memorial.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only boo. There are many more boos emanating throughout the country over the President’s speech. Some are saying that it was yet another empty speech delivering nothing new. Political analysts are calling it a sign that the 2012 presidential campaign has begun.
In yesterday’s post, I wrote that it would be interesting to see if President Obama or President Obama the 2012 Political Candidate would deliver today’s speech. It was a fine line he straddled, but a speech that only promises he will do his part to move a “constructive and civil” conversation forward but in return asks a specific action from the people to help him, resembles more closely a “vote for me” speech rather than a presidential policy address that delivers change.
Though the President and the White House want to be as pro-active on the issue as possible, and have actually enacted initiatives that were not in place before, like setting up a page on the WhiteHouse.gov website where people can download toolkits to host their own immigration roundtable discussions; deliver direct feedback to the White House regarding the immigration issue at the “Advise the Advisor” page; and released the Blueprint for Building a 21st Century Immigration System that outlines the President’s vision of a 21st century immigration policy, the burden of action was clearly set back on the shoulders of American constituents, namely the Latino community.
Rightly pointing out that it has been members of the GOP who have stood in the way of comprehensive immigration reform from being introduced in Congress and the DREAM Act from passing, the President made it clear that no executive power would be tapped to sidestep GOP obstructions.
Instead, he is creating momentum within his administration to push on the issue. While it would have been nice to see him act presidential and declare a concrete piece of action related to the broader issue, it is painfully obvious there is no political will to take that route.
So that leaves advocates, like Latina Lista, to decide whether it’s better to complain and not participate in the President’s strategy to pressure the GOP to stop “moving the goalposts” on the issue or accept the reality of the situation and do what I can do to help the conversation move forward.
The decision is an easy one, especially in light of all the DREAM Act students who are continuously being unjustly penalized in states that keep on passing punitive education bills focused on persecuting these students.
Yet if the President is serious about working on immigration reform with the Latino community, there should be one condition. The biggest insult would be to overlap campaign initiatives and restart actively campaigning to Latino grassroots orgs and communities while the push for immigration reform is being pursued.
If that should happen, it would be perceived as a lack of commitment and sincerity from the administration regarding immigration reform — a message that no candidate, who seriously wants the Latino vote, should want to deliver.