Taken For Granted
Chicago- President Obama thinks Latino voters are stupid. There's no evidence to the contrary, based on how he's mishandling his campaign promises on comprehensive immigration reform. It's already becoming a problem for him as he maneuvers toward the 2012 presidential election.
2008, Obama courted Hispanic voters by vowing to support "a system that
allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn
English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become
citizens." Put aside for a moment where you stand on the contentious issue
of immigration law enforcement versus reform and consider the depth of this
he said he'd support -- not champion, demand or show real leadership on -- a
plan to make this actually happen, it simply hasn't.
Aside from a few limp protestations about state
anti-illegal immigrant laws, his actions have been limited to delivering reform
platitudes at Hispanic Heritage Month events leading up to the 2010 midterms
and expressing disappointment when the Dream Act failed in the Senate.
Obama has instead agitated Hispanics, not to
mention everyone else who cares about efficient and humane immigration law
enforcement, with unprecedented numbers of deportations and sometimes deadly
detentions. Immigrant advocates are beside themselves that many of those were
not priority cases but nonviolent people without criminal pasts.
The last three weeks have been equally vexing.
First he met with a group of "senior administration officials and
stakeholders on immigration" that lacked any representatives of groups
with concerns about implementing reforms that will lead to more illegal
immigration. At the end, the president said that Congress had to act.
he met with a group of "influential Hispanics" including an actress
who markets hard alcohol in perfume-like bottles sold to young women, a portly
Chilean who can be found in millions of Hispanic homes every Saturday afternoon
along with giggling, jiggling thong bikini-clad women on his long-running
variety show, and a California-based shock jock who is as known for encouraging
participation in the 2005 immigration marches as he is for his obscenity-laden
Spanish-language Howard Stern-like morning show.
Need I spell out how offensive this is?
celebrities were directed by Obama to go forth and tell others that he must
obey the letter of the law and wait for Congress to act. This is hogwash. The
Department of Homeland Security could start easing the pain of deportations by
simply following its own rules. And just last week, immigration law experts
outlined the president's executive ability to interpret and implement existing
laws to improve people's lives, rather than just continue saying the laws are
broken and can't be fixed.
Obama topped those showpieces off by meeting with the Congressional Hispanic
Caucus. White House press secretary Jay Carney accurately predicted the outcome
at that day's press briefing thusly: "Well, it's not different. It's just
-- again, commitment and resolve." Obama then figuratively patted the
congressmen on the head and sent them on their way. Again.
Obama's empty promises are catching up to him. Rep. Luis Gutierrez has already
stated he won't back Obama's re-election bid if no progress is made on reform.
At May Day immigration rallies across the country, Hispanics were declaring
that they're not having it anymore -- one marcher, Juan Guerrero, told the Los
Angeles Daily News "(Obama's) not doing anything. I voted for him last
time, but I'm not voting for him again. Many Latinos won't vote for him
coalition of Chicago-based grass-roots immigration reform organizations that
was widely credited for stirring those massive nationwide immigration marches
back in 2005 has started asking organizers to get voters to come out and cast
ballots in 2012 -- but not for Obama.
"We don't want to go backward in the gains
the community has made in electoral politics participation. We want people to
come out for the primary and vote for all their senators, congressmen and local
elected officials but just skip the president" said Jorge Mujica, leader
of the March 10 Movement, who told me that other like-minded organizations
across the country are considering similar campaigns. "It's a measure to
pressure Obama to do something."
Latino voters are smart and they're seeing that
Obama's lack of leadership on immigration probably isn't going to change
anytime soon. As it stands right now, whether they vote Republican or not at
all, they have absolutely nothing to lose in 2012.
2011, Washington Post Writers Group