Has Obama “dropped the ball” on immigration?

September 27th, 2009 · 15 Comments

Yesterday, I read this piece by Ruben Navarrette titled Obama drops ball on immigration. I scratched my head and then thought to myself, “I don’t think President Obama ever really picked up the ball on immigration since he has occupied the White House.” We have seen evidence of this by his administration’s continuance of the ICE raids and racial profiling in the name of immigration enforcement. Additionally, I have never thought that comprehensive immigration reform would be a promise that comes to fruition in the first few years of this administration given the dire economic circumstances and the obstacles in selling health care reform.

I have been of the opinion for the past year, ever since we witnessed the economic meltdown last fall that immigration reform would occur more incrementally, not comprehensively, as so many people have proposed. My view is that Obama’s initial movements and statements about immigration reform were made before he and those around him had taken full stock of the economic situation. No matter how much you may want immigration reform, arguing for it when unemployment is still rising in many states is certainly challenging.

Admittedly, I’m disappointed in Obama’s recent actions and statements on immigration, but as this piece in The Economist points out, his administration “has been tinkering with immigration policy all year.” The Department of Homeland Security has made movements to expand the controversial 287 (g) program of training local law authorities to enforce immigration laws. This is what has given us the Sheriff Joe situation in Maricopa County, Arizona.

My view is that Latinos, collectively, aren’t pushing Obama and their representatives hard enough on immigration reform and its related issues to force the issue in the next year or so. While I do see glimmers of hope among the more activist base within the Latino and pro-migrant community, I still see so many who are unengaged within our communities. Let’s face it, although President Obama and his wife can certainly attend CHCI galas with us and make proclamations that “todos somos Americanos,” at the end of the day, it is going to be those calls to our representatives’ offices, along with letters to the White House, that are going to get the immigration train moving. We can’t even get Joe Baca and Loretta Sanchez to formally back the DREAM Act with co-sponsorship, which would be a great first step in reforming immigration laws by giving young people who are already here and contributing to our society legal status. To conclude, I suggest that those of you who are pro-immigration reform minded make those calls and send those letters. The framing of the immigration issue will be key, and we cannot afford to have it hijacked like we have seen with the health care debate. Rep. Gutierrez has signaled that he will introduce an immigration reform bill next month, so we already have a heads up.

Tags: Barack Obama · Congressman Joe Baca · Department of Homeland Security · Immigration · Rep. Loretta Sanchez · Rep. Luis Gutierrez · Ruben Navarrette

15 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Reyfeo // Sep 27, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    You cut Obama too much slack as usual…this is the guy who has taken on (trying to fix) everything at once, JUST NOT IMMIGRATION!

    Also, why would he engage in immigration reform right now…to do so would be political suicide…too many um-employed Americans (that includes Latinos born here and or who now Citizens of this nation–I say it this way to delineate for those of you who use “Latino” as if it applies to all Latinos including illegals) would be highly pi$$ed off if any politician tried to rationalize keeping illegals here if they are taking some of the much needed jobs Americans are struggling to find. So, yeah, good Sheriff Joe!!

  • 2 kyledeb // Sep 28, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Thanks for your consistent support of the DREAM Act, Adriana, and for your willingness to call out the CHC for not co-sponsoring it.

  • 3 New Guy // Sep 28, 2009 at 8:46 am

    First I would say if you are using terms like “todos somos Americanos” then the point is already being missed. Being new to the site I would ask would you please give some specifics on what you think should be done under this “Comprehensive Immigration Reform”? My research has shown that we as a nation have failed to enforce our already comprehensive immigration laws. I am truly interested in what peoples ideas are.

  • 4 Matthew Kolken // Sep 28, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    As an immigration practitioner I can’t begin to tell you how disappointing President Obama is on the issue of immigration reform.

    Pushing reform off to an election year reveals that he simply doesn’t care to address the issue at all.

    This is not change that I can believe in.

  • 5 losangelessoldadera // Sep 29, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    The turmoil that Obama inherited from the previous administration is overwhelming. The previous administration created a quagmire that Obama is now having to contend with, and immigration is on that list. To expect comprehensive immigration reform at this point in time is naive. Any immigration policy that takes place within the next couple of years is going to have to be a piece-meal approach. Sure we can be disappointed at Obama’s seemingly lack of effort at pushing immigration reform, or we can spread the blame to include Congress as well. Last I checked, it is they who legislate.

    Also, I would be remiss if I did not clarify a point made by Rey Feo – the term Latino refers to any person of Mexican and Latin American origin. It has nothing to do with citizenship status. Undocumented persons from Mexico or any other country in Latin America can rightfully call themselves Latino. (I don’t think U.S. Latinos have patented the term.)

  • 6 Reyfeo // Sep 29, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Thats my point losanageless’…and I agree, Latino is a term to describe Mexican and or anyone of LATAM origin. We have no disagreement here. The point I was trying to make is it is a term conversely used to include Americans of Latino culture in the mix when talking about immigration reform.

    Also, how long before we let the last President go…I mean are we really going to throw this new Administrations failures to act on (pick a topic) on the last preseident. Honestly, I think he owns this now, after all it is now almost a year into this “new” quagmire, and failure to act on immigration , under POTUS Obama.

    And why are we to settle for a peace-meal appraoch? Again, I say, this POTUS has taken on everything (becuase he claims he can solve/spend-on more than one thing at a time) and yet you rationalize it with a quagmire and a peace-meal approach, why? You certainly wouldn’t give GWB the same slack, would you?

  • 7 Anna // Sep 29, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    Obama has no intention of doing anything about immigration, Wall St, corruption, the economy, the public option or anything else. Most of us saw through him during the primaries. Too bad the rest of the party didn’t.

  • 8 Reyfeo // Sep 30, 2009 at 5:33 am

    That’s rigth Anna…he’s too busy paying back all the favors he used up to get to be POTUS (Olympics, TART Money etc….)…as usual we’re at the end/back/bottom of the list.

  • 9 losangelessoldadera // Sep 30, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    To Reyfeo: You misread what I wrote. I was rationalizing nothing. I was merely trying to make a point about the extent of the problems that are presently facing the nation. It is unrealistic to expect one administration to “fix” the problems that took several years to create. As for the comment “how long before we let the last president go,” I was suggesting that nothing is ahistorical. In order to understand the extent and severity of the problems, one must understand the events that created them. Lastly, I want reiterate my point about Congress. It is they who legislate, and it is they who have been unable to produce any viable policy on immigration, health care, or any other matter that is of importance to the average American citizen. It is easy to blame Obama, and I admittedly have my own issues with some of his actions. However, if it makes sense for you to lay the blame solely on Obama, then so be it.

  • 10 Reyfeo // Sep 30, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Not solely on Obama losangeles’…just most of it. I see the POTUS as the leader of the nation…and since he has a Democratic majority in both houses, I don’t understand how Obama can’t get anything passed except exuberant spending bills, which no one can explain to someone as simple minded (admittedly stupid sometimes) as me, how we’re going to pay for these things. If he had a Republican majority in Congress, I would clearly understand but that’s not the case. He left Health Care reform to Congress and you see how badly they screwed that up…he really needs to lead on immigration reform. He’s starting to show he can’t do that at all…leaving it to the legislative branch to figure it out what it is he wants isn’t working.
    That said, Obama campaigned on immigration reform and yet we have seen zero, nothing. He has time to rally support for the Olympics in Chicago, but just not immigration reform. Lets agree to disagree on whether any new administration can “fix” in one term what took years to create since I tend to believe he could (again, he has a majority Congress on his side), but to do so he needs to start something/anything now.

  • 11 El Cholo // Oct 3, 2009 at 11:39 am

    More dribble from the blind, deaf, and stupid.

  • 12 Anna // Oct 3, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Reyfeo, Obama has no intention of passing immigration reform. He might propose it, but he will do nothing to actually try to pass it.

    Latinos put Obama over the top in VA, IN, NC, etc. and not just the obvious states like Florida and New Mexico.

    He lost the majority of white voters, and not just in the South. If we stay home in four years, he loses.

  • 13 Why Boycotting the Census will not force the Immigration Issue // Oct 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    […] per my previous post, I don’t think that we are going to have immigration reform before the Census is completed, […]

  • 14 Michaelr // Oct 10, 2009 at 11:01 pm

    More woe is me from Ruben Navarrette. Do you actually think immigration reform will occur when you have double digit unemployment? Employ U.S. citizens first, create economic stability, and then revamp immigration reform. But the Dream Act should be supported now, not later.

  • 15 A “woe is me” piece by Ruben Navarrette // Oct 26, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    […] sometimes think that Navarrette hits the nail on the head, and other times, he misses it. But a writer can be applauded or praised when some agree with him or criticized when others […]

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