So President Obama and his administration have delayed action on immigration reform until after the mid-term elections; was anyone surprised?
Apparently immigrants rights groups were, but why?
Like everyone else, Eastern Group Publications has been waiting to see whether the president would be able to withstand pressure from his party to not act ahead of the November General Election.
Fearing they could lose seats in the Senate to Republicans, Democrats pressured the president to not increase the risk by taking executive action on immigration reform before the election.
We were not at all surprised by the president’s decision to back off because the truth is Democrats take Latinos for granted and don’t really believe they will follow through on threats to take action against them at the polls when they fail to live up to promises made.
Without control of the House and facing the prospect of losing more seats, it was fairly clear the president and Democrats on The Hill would be afraid to do anything that could lead to them losing the Senate as well, even if it is the right thing to do and promises were made. It’s a risk the president was unwilling to take, according to many political pundits, citing the danger of falling to the GOP and Dems becoming a minority party in the Congress.
How many times have we heard “it’s not your turn yet?”
“The time is not right” because there are more important things to take care of: isn’t that what Democrats said when they failed to act on immigration reform when Obama first took office? “Wait until health care legislation is passed”… It’s five years later and the wait goes on.
Immigration groups and Latinos in particular have now learned a very important political lesson about the American political system, it is controlled by two strategic views: Who can get you elected and who can deny you an election. Obviously, despite their numbers, Latinos don’t fill either of these roles.
That’s not to say they can’t because they can if they act in large numbers, starting with registering to vote and then voting. It also will require the large number of immigrants who are eligible to become citizens but are failing to do so, to finally get off the fence and become US citizens.
As far as we are concerned, it’s the only way Latinos will be able to apply real pressure on Washington. There is no other quick and decisive way to influence a change of attitude in the Congress on immigration reform in order to bring the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants out of the shadows.
Speeches, protest marches and opinion pieces are all important, they all have a place, but at the end of the day, votes are what matters.
This week we begin to celebrate Latino Heritage Month, it’s the perfect time to push hard to increase voter registration among Latinos and start a relentless drive to get out the vote in November.
It’s time Latinos stop depending on others to care as much as they do about securing all the benefits this country has to offer, such as quality education, health care for all, the ability to work and drive and to travel by plane, train and boats without being profiled and harassed, whether you are documented or not.
Latinos certainly have the numbers to do it, now they need the will.