We can’t wait for change

At a press conference with Mexico’s President and Canada’s Prime Minister, President Obama responded to a question on the timeline for immigration reform by stating that immigration reform was a priority but would have to wait till 2010 after health care, energy, and financial regulation bills were passed.

This is a reversal of his campaign promise to pass immigration reform in 2009. Patience for 2010 is hard to come by when the new administration persists with an enforcement-only strategy. Both represent a betrayal to Latino voters. The Latino community can’t wait till 2010 for justice.

The escalation of human suffering continues: civil and human rights violations in detention facilities; families torn apart as armed ICE agents arrest loved ones in their home; increased hate crimes and racial profiling of Latinos; workplace abuses by unscrupulous employers; and more have been a motivating factor for what Latinos expected in 2009: change.

Yet, where is the change? There have been some modest gestures. Yet the two central demands of the immigrant rights movement: stop the deportations and humane immigration reform are nowhere in sight.
Shockingly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under Secretary Napolitano’s leadership continues to support and expand Bush-era enforcement strategies. DHS refuses to create enforceable regulations with independent oversight. For-profit prisons and local and state jails continue to cash in from the criminalization of immigrants.

Other administrative reforms have gone unheeded. DHS refuses to repeal 287G agreements that have led to a vigilante cowboy culture by local and state law enforcement, such as Arizona’s Sheriff Arpaio.
DHS has been window dressing workplace raids by pushing I-9 audits; which hurt workers as much as any workplace raid.

Social Security No Match letters sent to employers, that have less than 1% effectiveness, have yet to be repealed.

It is clear that the Obama Administration has a political strategy that continues to cater to the most virulent xenophobic section of American society and a private prison and defense industry.

Legalization should not be postponed—in an economy that is largely based on consumerism, anything that puts money in the pockets of workers is a good thing. Legalization has been shown to raise wages, increase tax revenues, and encourage people to spend more.
If politicians make promises they don’t keep-who should we believe?

We need to believe in ourselves and hold politicians accountable not just in the voting booth but calls to their office, public forums and meetings. The need for visible protests that force the issue into the public eye cannot stop. Indeed, it must escalate.

Anti-immigration was a losing platform for Republicans in 2006 and 2008. If Democrats don’t challenge the dehumanizing policies of the past and deliver humane reform it will be a bankrupt platform in 2010 and 2012.
One easy step is to become more informed about issues, actions, and events is by becoming a member of Voces de la Frontera and joining the National Mobile Action Network to receive action alerts on your cell. To join:

1. Send the Word “justice” to the number 69866 (justicia in Spanish)
2. You will receive messages and alerts when important news about immigration occurs.
3. Respond with your zip code to receive alerts about local actions and news!

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This post is also available in: Spanish