In the heat of battle to win the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama made a solemn pledge to the Latino Community, in private and in public, that in exchange for our vote he would press forward to win passage of comprehensive immigration reform. The President of the United States said his commitment would be met during his first year in office.
Later on, during debates with New York Sen. Hillary R. Clinton the presidential candidates committed themselves to insure that Congress received, for subsequent debate, a comprehensive immigration reform package during the first 100 days of either one becoming the country’s next president.
Sen. Barack Obama won the primaries, and went on to eclipse Sen. John McCain in the general elections. In this historic achievement he won over 70% of the Latino vote. We can safely affirm, without unnecessary exaggerations, that Latino voters were a key element for his victory.
The majority of the country’s citizens voted for Barack Obama because he promised that practically everyone would have complete access to health care, and because he committed himself to reorganize the educational system in order to insure greater access to higher education for all who want it. And one cannot forget his commitment to recover lost national prestige, the world over, by ending the occupation of Iraq, and shutting down the horrendous Guantanamo Bay Prison in Cuba.
All the commitments made by President Barack Obama to the American people had a great echo throughout Latino communities.
In order to effectively end immigration raids at work, and at home, that are tearing families apart, and that are traumatizing and humiliating many people, a great portion of the Latino community understands the dire need for an immediate, generous and comprehensive reform to the current immigration laws. Moreover, the reform must clearly outline the path immigrant workers must take in order to receive their legal residency documents.
Right before the November elections the economic crisis exploded. Before this great new challenge, there have been those who have volunteered unsolicited advice to the Latino community warning that it better forget about immigration reform because, they say, “conditions no longer permit it”. Here, one cannot ignore the statement made in this regard by the President of Mexico. On February 26, he was quoted by the Associated Press as stating, “President Barack Obama is committed to immigration reform; I know that and he told me so, and that can be good for Mexico, and other nations. But the best thing that President Obama can do to benefit Mexico, and the region, is to fix the economic problems in the United States.”
This is the advise the President of Mexico offers its American counter part, and this is the support, and the solidarity, he gives to those he claims to acknowledge as most courageous, and the best Mexico has to offer.
For our part, we cannot forget that it was precisely he who during his first visit as Mexico’s President to the United States in February of 2008, in the City of Los Angeles, and in the course of making a speech to hundreds of Mexicans gathered for the occasion declared, among other things, that in the next 30 to 40 years Mexico would become the fourth of fifth world economic power. Whether it was one or the other would depend on what Brazilians did or did not do. No comment.
Before this dramatic political scene our community must understand that it cannot expect to get much from the Mexican Government. But, we all must remember that President Obama’s commitment is to make sure the Congress has a comprehensive immigration reform package within the first 100 days of his administration. Counting from January 20th, the date when he assumed presidential power, the one hundred days are up on May 1st.
Whatever we do to make sure the President fulfills his solemn pledge to our community will determine the relationship of our community with President Obama’s Administration, and with the Congress. Our voice, and that of our forces, in favor of a comprehensive immigration reform, will be felt loud and clear in the public action of April 4th in downtown Los Angeles.
Juan Jose Gutierrez is a founding member of the Full Rights for Immigrants Coalition, the coordinator of Latino Movement USA.Posted - Copyright © 2022 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.