Written by Sofia Navas-Sharry:
“Yes, you can! Yes, you can!”
Those were the words that were chanted at the NCLR conference when Obama said that he couldn’t just bypass Congress and change the laws on his own. The truth is that he actually can grant administrative relief to a number of undocumented immigrants. Clearly, he’s not getting the message that on immigration, some bold, executive action is desperately needed.
Enter stage right: Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill), and ten other peaceful protesters, including Deepak Bhargava from the Center for Community Change and Gustavo Torres from Casa de Maryland. They, on Tuesday afternoon, sat down in front of the White House, practically knocking on his door, to deliver that message. The group sat in front of a banner which read “One million deported under President Obama.”
According to the authorities, they were arrested for “violating regulations for demonstrations in front of the White House” and “disobeying an official to come in compliance.” What they were really doing was protesting the many undocumented immigrants who have been deported during Obama’s three years in office.
This is not the first time Rep. Gutierrez has been arrested for protesting in front of the White House. In May 2010, he announced that he would not move from in front of the White House until he was arrested…or until comprehensive immigration reform had passed. This time, Gutierrez and the others want the President to use his executive authority to stop deportations.
According to the New York Times:
In a letter to Gutierrez on Monday, Obama rejected his proposal to suspend deportations of undocumented college students with noncriminal records…“It didn’t disappoint me as much as I was saddened,” said Gutierrez after paying his $100 fine and was released by the police.
In his letter, Mr. Obama argued that immigration authorities had succeeded in increasing the numbers of convicted criminals among immigrants who are deported, while deporting fewer immigrants who lack legal status but have not been convicted of any crime.
But this Campus Progress infographic on non-criminal vs. criminal deportations tells a different story.
These are some of the brightest and most hard-working people in America, and it’s incredibly unfortunate that they are being sent back to countries where they have no future. Why does Obama’s administration continue to rip mothers, fathers, and scholars — much needed brain- and man-power — away from our nation? Deporting a record number of immigrants is not the record that President Obama can afford to stand behind — not in this economy, or with the election next year.