Guest Voz: If a Deportee Could Vote

By Nancy Landa

Over the past few months, I have been on a personal vendetta against President Obama for his broken promise on immigration reform and on the record-setting deportations under his administration.

There has been very little proof that the majority of children, youth, and families that have been deported are high priority cases or that this is in any shape, way or form improving the security of the US contrary to what the administration states.

The Great American Boycott and 2006 U.S. immigration reform protests, on May 1, 2006. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you have any doubts, you just need to look at my personal story.

In 2008, I had actually signed up to volunteer on the Obama campaign not too far from my now hometown of Tijuana, just across the border (or as we say here, en el otro lado) in San Diego. We were hoping to turn around the conservative vote there, not only for the presidential ticket but also for local candidates.

I remember that Tuesday night during the election rally, after working tirelessly on Get out the Vote (GOTV) efforts, we were glued to the monitor waiting for the election results. And the rest was over, we were celebrating with joy President Obama’s victory.

The first thing I said to myself was: “I really hope that the legal limbo that I found myself in would be resolved” not only for me but for the countless of DREAMers that believed in the HOPE he represented for comprehensive immigration reform.

But now four years later, all we have is over a million deportees and a short-term fix (Deferred Action) which allows only a temporary relief to undocumented youth that are yearning for an opportunity to be productive members of society in a permanent way.

The question for me now is, would I still support President Obama if I was in the states?

Well, before I can answer it I had to revisit why I even care now. I no longer live in the U.S. I should pay attention to Mexican politics right? Well, in a way I am. I have not gotten around to being involved in campaigns as I still have much to learn about Mexican politics (a whole different animal) but I did vote in our elections this past July, my first-ever vote in presidential elections.

But having lived in the U.S. for almost 20 years, with close ties to friends and relatives that live there is enough for me. Not to mention that we in Mexico should care about the elections in the U.S. as our relationship with our neighbor up north is very relevant to us.

Having said that, I return to the main question. And on this matter, yesterday I had a debate with my dad about the elections and just realized for the first time in my life since I recall discussing politics with him, he is favoring a Republican!

My hardcore staunch Democrat dad is holding Obama’s promise for immigration reform against him. And I understand that, it is very hard to be forgiving about this when you experience deportation.

And I also have the right to adopt that view. At the same time, when I take a look at the bigger picture and compare the candidates in what I see in the news, hear in their speeches, read in the newspapers about their views, all in light of their party’s political platforms, I am not too certain things will be better for the immigrant community with Mitt Romney.

I agree with the criticisms against the Democratic party as they are the “party of whips” that do not take strong stances on issues and cannot get their votes aligned to make things happen. And I do believe they are are ‘cop outs’ when they use the “we do not have enough Republican support” as an excuse for ineffectiveness around the immigration issue.

What is also obvious to me is that the Republican party has taken a much more antagonistic stance toward undocumented immigrants. Romney has stated he supports self-deportation, does not support continuing with Deferred Action, opposes the DREAM Act and is more concerned about securing the border.

Actually, I think he is much worse than Bush Jr. on immigration. He will not be the reincarnation of former President Reagan as many Republicans, especially in the Latino community, would like to believe when they state he would deliver comprehensive immigration reform.

The truth is, both parties have failed the immigrant community. I lived in the U.S. during four presidents, representing both parties and during that time, there were no immigration law changes that could have helped individuals like me become legal permanent residents.

And although a temporary solution is not what we expected from President Obama four years ago, it is much more than we have gotten from any other president on this issue in two decades. Romney will pose to be a risk to all those DREAMers that are slowly coming out of the shadows to apply for Deferred Action.

The last thing we need to see is for those borders to continue to be flooded with deportees, especially of young immigrants, because of the inability of either party to revisit immigration laws that have been inflexible for so long and do not work anymore for our current reality.

Nancy Landa is a deported honors graduate and former student President of California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Nancy resides in Tijuana since her deportation in 2009 and has shared her story to highlight the need for comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. You can follow Nancy on Facebook and Twitter @mundocitizen.

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