Presidential Leadership on Immigration Reform Needed!

Latinos and Obama

Obama’s Immigration Reform

Jennifer Lawson Zepeda

In the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama commented about the lack of presidential leadership on immigration reform in 2006.  At the speech to the League of Latin American Citizens, he promised this crucial block of voters whom he would need to fight against Sen. John McCain, in the November elections that he would do better. At that time he said:“When 12 million people live in hiding in this country and hundreds of thousands of people cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented workers instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; and a nursing mother is torn away from her baby by an immigration raid, that is a problem that all of us — black, white, and brown — must solve as one nation.”

His actions following that speech proved he was using rhetoric to gain the Latino vote.  Obama has done nothing to follow up on the words given in that speech and many Latinos are reconsidering their vote in 2012 because of he didn’t keep his promise.

Latinos Denounce Obama in 2012

In 2011, many Latino Leaders are denouncing support for Obama in the 2012 presidential race because of the way he has avoided this politically hot-button issue.

He has slid away from his rhetoric of “It’s why I reached across the aisle in the Senate to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.”These days, he is leaning as far away from immigration reform as he can to avoid offending the Republican mindset — people who have been on a steady agenda of dividing Latino families through deportations.  And through doing this, he inadvertantly helped a new divisive effort to pass laws against immigrants and their U.S. citizen family members.

States passing anti-immigrant legislation
Several states are now passing anti-immigrant legislation that has resulted in a wave of immigrants fleeing these states.  The overall effect of this legislation is that those states are losing much needed revenue as immigrants flee and this furthers the decline of our economy.

Alabama’s H.B. 56, signed into law on June 9, 2011, is the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law.

  • It makes it a crime to be without status.
  • It requires law enforcement to check the papers of anyone they suspect of being undocumented
  • It mandates that public schools check the legal status of their students
  • It abrogates any contract made with an undocumented immigrant
  • It makes it a felony for undocumented immigrants to contract with a government entity including for such basic services like as having water connected to your house

The result of this law is that crops now rot as most of the migrant workers who normally work these fields have moved to other states to find work. Hundreds of millions in tax and farm revenue have left with them.

Arizona’s SB1070, signed into law in April of 2010, unleashed immediate protests and reignited the over immigration reform nationally.

The provisions of this law that spurned the anger were:

  • Became a misdemeanor for an alien to be in Arizona without carrying required documents.
  • Required state law enforcement officers to attempt to determine an individual’s immigration status
  • Banned state or local officials from restricting enforcement of federal immigration laws
  • Cracked down on those sheltering, hiring and transporting illegal aliens

This led to  HB 2162 passed in 2011 amending the wording of SB1070 that Janet Brewer had signed.  It was passed because SB 1070  ensured that racial profiling would result from enforcement.  HB 2162 amended the bill and left it up to the discretion of the officer to determine if questioning regarding legal status was justified.  There were several amendments that made this racist legislation more palatable and slid the issue of immigration into fascism with the stroke of a pen.

Currently, about 20 other US states are working on similar legislation and the trend is towards an unfriendly nation towards immigrants.  So much so, that now LEGAL immigrants have become the focus and target as “job takers” and a group in California has taken out ads against legal immigrants.

Latinos were key to Democratic victories in 2008.  We have the power to swing crucial states in 2010.  Obama’s unsuccessful attempts to prevent the state legislation has not motivated many Latinos to support his next term.  These laws are in direct opposition to the U.S. Constitution, and Obama could have supported opposition to these laws based on that alone.

As a friend of mine once said, “I wonder what he’s going to tell them in 2012…”

21 Comments on “Presidential Leadership on Immigration Reform Needed!”

  1. The US is going to feel very foolish as its economy steadily declines and the South American economy climbs steadily upward. It will be US citizens hoping for jobs in Venezuela or Bolivia while immigration officials shake their heads and say, “neah, we don’t want you.”

    The US is also one of those Western countries whose birth rate has declined, which means its native population is shrinking. The only real growth burst it has received has been from immigration. To many, this might sound like a good thing. Our cities are crowded, yet 80% of the United States remain lightly populated.

    As you pointed out, Jennifer, without immigration manpower, we lose a very large percent of our labor force. The average American is content as long as s/he has a cubbyhole with a plasma TV, an entertainment center, a cell phone and pharmaceutical drugs or alcohol to wipe away any traces of unhappiness. Immigration did not cause their woes. Their own laziness and absorbed self-interest did. If America doesn’t put on its thinking cap soon and discover adequate, effective means for dealing with its problems, it will become one of the poorest countries in the world.

  2. Well put Jennifer and Karlsie, once the nation can get past all this hate, we can better ourselves!

  3. It is absolutelty ridiculous for us to carry on living with some 11 million undocumented people. It is high time, both, the Democrats and the Republicans do something sensible about the ongoing situation. Apart from the civil offence issue, they are here and are a big portion of everyones daily life. Why not register all of them, screen all and send the ones with criminal backgrounds back home immediately. Make the good ones, pay a fine, processing fees and back taxes and make them learn english. After they make it through the initial process, give them some sort of conditional residency where they are not eligable for government handouts but they have to continue to stay out of trouble with the law, keep paying their taxes and after a 6 year period they can apply for permanant resideny and another 6 years from then they can apply for citizenship.

    Everyone focuses on the highly skilled but all the same we need farmers and janitors and the lower end guys to keep doing some of the jobs we find to crappy to even think of.

  4. Stewart, let’s think about this a moment. In the supposed land of the free, we want to witch hunt for eleven million undocumented aliens scattered throughout an extremely large country of 153 million? That project alone would be a costly burden on our already staggering tax payers. Then, only the most acceptable of these immigrants can stay; in a country notoriously prejudiced against race and color; as long as they learn English and stay out of trouble. If they do this, they can have our crappy jobs; farmers and janitors and i suppose, ditch diggers. All this in a country going bankrupt while the Latin American countries are on the rise. Interesting.

  5. The facts are that states that have chased off undocumented immigrants through harsh and often racially intolerant policies have suffered economically. Hundreds of millions in tax and farm revenue lost over paranoia of immigrant seems like kicking oneself in the gut. The silly people who feel a need to control the lives of immigrants have created a huge financial loss in those communities, not only through the loss of sales in goods and services, but through losing a viable source of production of goods and services that most citizens have not dashed in to fill. These job openings are vacant, in spite of the removal of the immigrant worker, even in a down economy.

    Another thing that is never brought up is the EB-5 waiver for permanent green cards, where wealthy immigrants can buy their green cards for themselves and their entire families in exchange for investing in American businesses that hire at least 10 people. Obama has supported this as a viable stimulant for the economy. What he hasn’t considered is that this is also a fine entry for those involved in organized crime who want to remove their families from the dangerous areas they operate in and continue to do business from afar. It certainly has helped a few cartel leaders enter the U.S. And it is completely legal.

  6. Destroy the state and the very concept of the immigrant (a “legal” status) will cease to have any meaning whatsoever – no more immigrants means no more need for “reform” over immigrant policy.

  7. Jennifer, I would be interested to know which cartel leaders have been granted an EB-5 visa. Can you cite your source? The EB-5 visa is available to foreigners who are able to invest at least 1/2 $million in special projects designed to bring jobs to deprived areas. The granting of green cards to these investors is the least America can do to encourage more of them to come. They will be self-supporting immigrants who will buy homes, cars etc., spend their money here, pay taxes and generally help the economy.
    If undesirables want to come to America, I doubt they would subject themselves to the exhaustive background checks required to get an EB-5 visa.

  8. Those of us foreign nationals who cannot afford to invest 1/2 $million can get an E2 (entrepreneur) visa for as little as $200,000. You buy or start a small business and, for most of us, raising that money meant selling everything we had. The difference is that the E2 has to be renewed every 5 years and does not lead to permanent residency. I employ 11 American citizens, yet I can never become one myself. E2 investors collectively employ around three quarters of a million Americans. A path to green cards should be created for us. After all, we abided by the laws of the land and risked our own money for the chance to live and work in America.

  9. Well said Jennifer. American Citizens are complaining that Mexico and the south american countries are corrupted; full with murderers and what not, and american citizens do not understand that they are somewhat responsible for this for purchasing drugs in the first place. What I love about the USA is that anyone can survive on a minimum wage. But no people want to spend more than they have. If they get at least a 2 year degree they will be okay. I hope our government deals with the iimgration issue or oneday US citizens will be hoping the border to Mexico and South America.

  10. Nina,

    The sister of the Arellano Felix drug cartel leaders has skillfully used these types of methods to move her family to Los Angeles and my source is that we ran from these people after they tried to force my husband to join their organization in 2006. It led to my disjointed life for over six years. So, let’s say that I have a direct source to this lifestyle and some of its leaders after fleeing them both in the U.S. and El Salvador. It is well known among cartel members that leaders regularly invest in the U.S. to come here; not to mention other members of organized crime. For about $500,000 you can not only come here but bring your wife, kids, cousins, aunts and uncles if you can claim they are in danger. And you brought up the extensive background screening? Did you know the worst criminals with the most violent crimes are the only ones today getting asylum? They are the ones the Department of Homeland Security grants asylum because they play both sides of the coin, giving information on their compadres and committing crimes with them as well. While my husband was asking for asylum, we knew three murderers, two gang members who were shot callers, and several violent criminals who were awarded asylum; while the people with minor crimes were denied.

    I won’t even go into the fact that during the civil wars in El Salvador, many of the people granted asylum here had committed violent crimes in their own country; but had money to invest in our economy. It’s positively disgusting.

    Immigration should begin with relatives of U.S. citizens FIRST; then it should be based on waiting time…not money! No one should be able to pay to overstep immigration laws! That’s vulgar in every sense of the word and not what this country’s constitution was founded upon.

  11. What’s the tie between Obama and the states that are passing their own immigration laws? Are you suggesting the the President squash states rights? I seems that your argument would be better directed at those states that are passing this legislation. Many of our Latino friends tend to vote to the right anyway. At least here in the golden state.

  12. Hubbleboy, I feel there IS a connection between Obama’s clear lack of leadership with regards to immigration reform and the states passing anti-immigration laws. There is a sort of behavior where you do nothing to stand up for what you believe in, simply to allow yourself to hold office that rubber stamps things. And when he has the nerve to back things like EB-5 as a measure to help the economy and then do nothing to follow up on his promises to implement immigration reform, he sends a clear message to the public that immigration issues aren’t important. Beyond that, Obama has gone on record as VERBALLY supporting the 2007 comprehensive bill to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill; so why isn’t he standing up and talking about this? Isn’t that what leaders do? His “Path to Citizenship” is simply rhetoric to get elected again.

    Latinos vote regional as do all of the other cultures. Where there is a high percentile of conservatism and a bible belt mentality, they may support conservative ideals…just as whites, blacks, and every other culture does. Overall though, many of us vote differently on issues that affect our families. We may vote for a candidate who has a Christian philosophy IF he supports legislation that helps our families. That is not a party affiliation as much as a traditional view of what Latino families hold sacred. And immigration has very much affected our families; often dividing them between countries.

  13. First off @ Nina- I don’t see any of those provisions helping everyday people with their immigration. The number of folks able to come up with those funds are few. If I were required to come up with those funds to remain an American I would be kicked out. It’s also interesting that immigrants from Canada and European countries-heck even India and Asian nations don’t have to set those kind of stakes to come to the U.S.

    @Jennifer. I am interested in exactly how President Obama can help or should have helped. You wrote about the election promises he made but not about practical ways in which his “Leadership” could be implimented.

    For myself I am very concerned about Federal Government overstepping State’s rights. Even when they make aweful, terrible laws. Allowing the federal government to strike what state voters set into place is setting a very bad precident for all state’s continued ability to govern themselves. I am not a Constitutional Lawyer so I could be wrong, if so someone please point it out so I can learn. However where in the Constitution does it allow for the Office of The President to overturn Laws voted upon by state citizenry? If anything this is a matter for congress. Fat chance getting any help there.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely against what is going down in Arizona and the likelyhood that other border states will follow suit is high and concerns me. These are absoultely human rights issues that we should be standing for. The voters in these states have the power to do so (for now-providing the Feds don’t get involved) and that is where the energy needs to go as I see it.

    Once we set a precident for the Federal Government to come into a state and tell they must change the will of the people, we have lost. And, who do you think is going to fill that seat after Obama? Some nice, even handed bloke? Also pushing the Presidential Office to manage the Border could have some long term effects we will most definately not like. Like a complete close-down of the Border and/or a corridor created and manned like a providence requiring passport for American Citizens.

    In anycase I would be very interested in hearing practical ways that it would be both helpful and legal for Presidential Oversight of this issue without giving up the government in this state.

  14. Grainne, from a Constitutional standpoint, these states are breaking many civil rights laws. It is not so much that I want the Feds to regulate state laws; but if and when the states form laws that override civil rights and human rights, I do expect the acting president to assume a leadership role in investigating this and taking corrective measures such as:

    Committees to monitor possible civil rights violations in their states.

    Bringing in the FBI to handle investigation of people like Sheriff Joe Arpaio (who breaks many human rights laws)

    Investigating hate crimes directed at immigrants.

    Something akin to the New York Advisory Committee’s May 2003 community forum on post-September 11 civil rights issues which examined the social consequences of racial profiling in law enforcement before and after 9/11.

  15. There are people living for more then 20 years without documents.They live in fear.Why we need to kick out good people?People that pay taxes,do hard work,study.We make them cry all the time.Separate families….Cruel,cruel, unbelievable and who does it?All we that all we are immigrants.Shame,unbeliavable shame and believe me this cruel thing will be written in the HISTORY.Most of our immigrants are well educated and have nothing to do with illegal present,because their parents have brought them 20 -25 years ago. I can’t undestand and the same time we are welcoming unknown people, with Diversity visa Lottery.We have enough immigrants.I read all the time that we don’t need them.Why is this Diversity Lottery?.Stop it and try to make already presented people happy and then stop taking any immigrants.You make the situation worse and worse.What happen to the Dream act?I know people,who are waiting 10 years out of US.They left the coutry because authorities have told them that If they leave the country immediately they will face only 3 years bar to reenter.They did evrything what have been said.And guess!After 8 years waiting for visa bulletin to become current at the embassy visa was denied .Explanation was that they face 10 years bar.I know these people.Well educated,high moral value,paid taxes,had house.They lost everething just because they tryed to follow all the immigration law.They gave all their money to immigration lawyers.So unfair!Is’n it?And other once are watching them and afraid to do anything,because they may stuck somewhere like these nice brocken hearted people.Why am I writing this?Who needs it?I know that we all are immigrants and nobody have right to punish anyone,but in tnis world powerful ones smashes the weak ones.It is fact.

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