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29/01/10 a 3:57pm por Maribel Hastings
We were waiting for three words to fall from President Obama’s lips: “Reforma Migratoria Integral”—or “comprehensive immigration reform,” for those who speak the language of Shakespeare.
But what we heard from Obama in his State of the Union address was that “we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system.”
Certainly, we have to repair our failed immigration system—and doing so requires those three magic words: comprehensive immigration reform.
As Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, said, “we expected the Obama mention of immigration reform would be a drive by, we just didn’t expect it to be at 75 miles per hour.”
I won’t go off on a diatribe about what Obama should or shouldn’t have said and how he should have said it. But I will say that he could have shown more leadership and forcefulness when talking about immigration, and urged Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion to resolve the issue once and for all, since no matter how hard they try to ignore the issue, it won’t go away. Or he could have linked immigration reform to economic recovery and explained that legalization would generate billions of dollars in tax revenues for the country’s coffers.
The odd thing is that many of these arguments were included in the “viewer’s guide” the White House circulated.
Here’s what Obama said in the address: “And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system – to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.”
But the viewer’s guide says that “The President is pleased Congress is taking steps forward on immigration reform that includes effective border security measures with a path for legalization for those who are willing to pay taxes and abide by the law. He is committed to confronting this problem in practical, effective ways, using the current tools at our disposal while we work with Congress to enact comprehensive reform. “
Inspiring words, and ones that many wanted to hear from the president’s lips on Wednesday—but they didn’t appear.
Nevertheless, in a press conference Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) declared that the government remains truly committed to immigration reform and declared that “the president, I don’t think, dropped the ball” on immigration reform. “He has talked to us about immigration reform. It’s something we need to do.”
“We have done comprehensive immigration reform, we as a Democratic Senate. And, as you know, we worked very, very hard,” said Reid. He added that he didn’t want to set deadlines, but finished by saying, “It’s something we’re committed to do. And we’ll do it as soon as we can.”
Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), who heads the Senate’s Immigration Subcommittee and is leading the effort to draft immigration reform legislation that will attract bipartisan support, declared that “we are making good progress. The work that we were doing in the fall is continuing now. We’re meeting with all different kinds of groups trying to get everybody together to come out for one bill.”
“We have to have this bill be a bipartisan bill, two Democrats, two Republicans to introduce it. We’re not there yet. We’re still working on getting our Republicans. But we’re talking to people,” Schumer said. He mentioned incidentally that he had even met with Lou Dobbs, “who, as many of you know, is changing his views on immigration.”
Obama didn’t say the three words, but words, like promises, are cheap. We’re left waiting for concrete action from the White House and Congress on the immigration front—actions that would speak louder than a thousand words.