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25/05/10 a 2:03pm por Maribel Hastings
When health-care reform seemed doomed, the media began to publish articles saying that Barack Obama’s legislative strategy was not working effectively because his advisors were not paying attention to the advice of their Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel. Health care reform is now law.
Now that immigration reform is still stalled, media reports indicate that this time apparently they are paying attention to Emanuel, since they’re certainly following his advice that the White House avoid the immigration issue at all costs.
The Los Angeles Times reported (surprise!) that Emanuel is said to be arguing that now is not the best time to introduce an immigration reform bill, especially in an election year.
Whatever the case, the President is Barack Obama and not Rahm Emanuel, so it’s not enough to lay the blame for inaction on just one person–even the legendary White House Chief of Staff.
During a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón, President Obama expressed his regret that he does not have the votes in the Senate to advance immigration reform and highlighted Republicans’ refusal to collaborate.
Today he met with Senate Republicans to discuss his legislative agenda, including the topic of immigration.
Since Obama knows how to count, he also knows that not only does he have to convince Republicans, but some Senators of his own Democratic Party who do not want to deal with this issue in an election year or in any other year.
He should also consider these figures:
In the United States, there are 5.5 million children with undocumented parents, and three quarters of these children are U.S. citizens. A report from the Urban Institute (UI) estimates that over the past 10 years the U.S has deported 100,000 parents of children who are U.S citizens–children like the little girl from Maryland who told the first lady, Michelle Obama, “my mom says that President Obama is taking everybody away who have no papers.”
Each year 65,000 young people graduate from high school without immigration documents that would allow them to continue studying or working. These young people, who did not come on their own but rather were brought by their parents or relatives, would be legalized under the DREAM Act, which was originally introduced almost 10 years ago. Some of these young people are now risking deportation by participating or letting themselves get arrested in acts of civil disobedience across the country.
It is estimated that the AgJobs Bill would legalize half a million undocumented farm workers. Seventy percent of the agricultural workers who pick the food we eat–perhaps even the food consumed by the distinguished guests during the state dinner honoring Calderón–are undocumented.
In Fiscal Year 2009, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported nearly 388,000 people and is already on track to deport more people than the George W. Bush Administration.
70% of these deportations are of non-criminal undocumented immigrants.
It’s impossible to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants one by one.
In 2008, 67% of Latino voters voted for Obama. Although surveys indicate that Hispanic voters are upset with Obama for his handling of the immigration issue, the majority still support him. This should be the reason for his Administration not to rest on its laurels and take action, especially considering the midterm elections this November and his own re-election in 2012.
With such large numbers at stake, it hurts to think that it’s only 60 votes that are needed in the Senate to move forward with a process that could alleviate so much uncertainty.