Friday, September 5, 2014

"Deporter-in-Chief" or "Emancipator-in-Chief"

(PR) - Once again, President Barack Obama has reneged on his most recent promise of administrative relief to address the plight of immigrants, with executive action to stop the separation of families and defer deportation of millions of undocumented that uphold the U.S. economy.

According to the Los Angeles Times of August 29, 2014, “the Obama administration is considering waiting until after the November elections to take actions that could keep many undocumented immigrants from being deported.”

Undoubtedly, opposition from Democratic party leaders and senators in competitive states is the source of the administration’s new backtracking.

They are terribly fearful of voter back-lash due to any administrative relief enacted by the president that would favor the undocumented. To use a football analogy, they are hearing election footsteps, and pressured Obama to punt.

We characterize the current situation confronting Obama as a Shakespearian dilemma: a fateful choice between prevailing in the mid-term elections, or cementing a legacy of benevolence as the Emancipator-in-chief. 

However, we have confirmed that he will attempt to have his cake and eat it, too. He will opt for the former, deferring to the party establishment over immigrant communities while managing the push-back already erupting in the latter. 

His recent high-level appointments of several Latinos are an indication that the placating game has already begun.

The cautious political calculus proffered by White House advisors would have Obama continue staunch enforcement along the border, continue the regional hemispheric campaign to reduce the flow of unaccompanied minors at the border and prolong the review process of optimal legal options for executive action until after the mid-term elections, while coaxing his Latino electoral base to be patient – once more.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. 
Doing nothing until after the elections has little electoral downside for the Democratic Party regarding Latinos, so it is thought. Latinos don’t constitute a sizeable voter lift in any of the red states of concern to the Democrats – Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, and North Carolina – and their greatest fear is loss of the Senate. 

The Republican Party needs six seats to accomplish this. However, Colorado, where Latino voters constitute 20 percent, will be a fiercely fought toss-up.

Conclusively, on the issue of immigration relief, Obama is about to fool the immigrant communities three times, if not more. How many more chances does he get before paying any political consequences?

Unfortunately, the Washington DC-well funded professional immigrant advocacy agencies and their appendages in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and other strategic cities nationally are very forgiving on this score. They have typically played the role of apologist for this administration at every turn, and the Democratic Latino elected officials establishment will also go along to get along, with honorable exceptions. 

But, Latino voters are another story. They just don’t march to the president’s drum beat.

Executive action advocacy targeting Obama has been our focus since early last fall, first to halt the deportation machine, and second, to extend legal protection by a sweeping administrative relief by deferred action, when the Republican Party deceptions became more than obvious to the reasonable person. 

In any case, S.744, the “gang of eight’s” reform consensus by both Democrats and Republicans, was neither fair nor humane to millions of immigrants and their families. It didn’t even meet the generous 1986 amnesty threshold, notwithstanding important shortcomings of that law, under conservative Republican President Ronald Reagan.

If one of the key premises used repeatedly by Obama to pitch for immigration reform is the economic benefit to the country – estimated in the trillions of dollars – why should any executive action fall short of the entire 11 million? If the argument is good for an estimated five million it seems that it is doubly so for twice that number. Therein lays the slogan surfaced of late amongst immigrants themselves – 11 MILLION AND NO LESS!

Independent of and despite Obama’s political cowardice, constant equivocations, deceptions, and massive deportations, Latinos will defend their interests, which are not the same as the Deporter-in-Chief's. 

What more could explain his precipitous drop in popularity amongst Latinos, nationally? It is precisely for this reason that the Democrats will probably lose the Senate and they will have only Obama and themselves to blame.

Instead of rallying all party constituencies, particularly Latinos, to defend the Senate and regain control of Congress, Obama has sealed his last two years in office as a lame duck President and a minefield of political gridlock focused on the 2016 presidential elections.

The National Coordinating Committee 2014 for Fair and Humane Immigration Reform is an independent binational network of migrant worker and family grassroots organizations and coalitions that struggle for immigration reform according to the needs of our families in California, Texas, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Florida and Mexico.

UPDATE 9/6/2014: President Obama will wait after the November elections to provide some relief to the unauthorized people living in the country besides de DACA provisions. 

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