6.16.2012

A Response To President Obama's Immigration Reform Announcement: "This Doesn't Erase The Broken Promises and Flat Out Betrayal"



(Blogger's Note: I am a member of the Houston United Yahoo Group that was launched by our Hispanic/Latino brothers and sisters in the Bayou City. One of the members by the name of Francisco sent out this email in response to an email alert he received from Laura Vazquez, Immigration Legislative Analyst for the National Council of La Raza. They wanted him to "Thank the President for Much-Needed Action for DREAMers!")

Dear Policy expert:


I received your invitation to call President Obama to thank him for the "Much-needed action for Dreamers"


Here is my response:


Too little, too late don't you think? He could have done this long time ago. How can we (he, and you, and me) explain the suffering of this 800,000 eligible kids and their families for the past four years? And what about all those who don't fit within this category of people "deserving" of rights? What about those who died when trying to come back after being deported in record numbers by the Obama administration? They can't send a thank you note.


I can't deny that this administrative measure is a good thing for those affected and will make a difference in their lives. They and their families and all immigrants in this country deserve to have their full human rights respected. They have earned this, and more. Having said this, the announcement is also an opportunistic electoral move. In my book, president Obama, his party and many of the D.C. immigration reform organizations like NCLR, CCC, NIF, etc, still have an enormous historical debt with immigrant families.


When push came to shove you all turned our historical battle cry of Yes we can, onto a pathetic and spineless "If we can", "When we can", "If the bad guys let us and is not too inconvenient to our electoral and fundraising agenda we might try".


If I sound angry is because I am. I work with immigrant workers, jornaleros, migrants with spinal cord injuries that have no access to medical supplies or attention, Central American migrants trying to cross Mexico losing their lives or being amputated from falling from the trains when trying to cross  militarized borders when coming back to their families after being deported with programs like "Secure Communities". President Obama has been consistently doing what is good for his political agenda, making concessions to the enemies of immigrant communities and workers. This gesture doesn't erase the historical responsibility that both American and Mexican societies have with the thousands of migrants who died due to this apartheid like immigration policies. The hypocrisy of the so called debate about immigration policy in the U.S. makes it very hard to analyze real policy options but at least one thing is clear, you keep asking the wrong questions you will continue getting wrong answers.


Immigration reform is an issue of human rights and policies that are based on a criminalization framing continue bringing money to the prison industrial complex and suffering to immigrant families.


Yesterday's announcement stays on the criminalization framing and even if a two year window of opportunity for a selected group of migrants is a step on the right direction this doesn't erase the broken promises and in some cases flat out betrayal of the past four years.


I know so many amazing dreamers around the country. They are incredibly brave and I am humbled by their resilience and dignity, I am also outraged on how the democratic party and the Obama administration have used the Dream Act to hit their (and our) Republican adversaries but not to actually done something to help their constituents and do what is right. I believe Dreamers have a right to celebrate this step forward, they worked very hard for something a lot better than this, but this still is a relief. I am confident they understand what is going on and their political analysis and skills will keep them from buying into the current rhetoric that reproduces the typical conservative discourse of "the deserving poor": People who are nice and play by the rules deserve some limited rights while the rest can continue to be oppressed, incarcerated for profit and deported. This logic doesn't see the need to question who makes the rules and how the same system making the rules now produced laws in the recent historical past that enforced racial segregation a few decades ago and criminalizes entire sectors of the population today for doing things that just ten years ago were not considered a crime. I know that dreamers know their parents have nothing to be ashamed of, they did what they needed to do in the context of an economic and legal system that produces the conditions for migration with the same voices who call us to thank President Obama for this and to remember this in November seem to ask us to forget many other things.


Hope was the theme of the last election. Might be useful to think that hope is based in memory. We can have hope because we have memory of who we are and where we come from. We have memory of what our communities and families have been through and how many barriers our people have brought down, how many unjust and immoral laws were changed by our elders in previous social movements. We remember who are those who have been attacking our communities year after year, lie after lie, law after law. (Republicans and their most recent offspring have been very effective at poisoning the debate around immigration and obstructing any advance, but at least many of them don't pretend to be on our side).


I know that political parties, elected officials and many D.C. based groups have to operate under the logic of funding cycles and electoral cycles, this is understandable, and it has become part of your political identity. The dreamers movement and the immigrant rights movement cannot make the mistake of confusing these cycles with the long term struggle for human rights.


I wonder, if these amazing youth has been able to grow so much and do so much while "dreaming", what will they be capable of achieving when they wake up? I know it is going look a lot better than this two year suspension of the oppression and it is going to be an honor to continue supporting their efforts as part of the larger struggle for racial and social justice we are all part of.


Here goes your thank you note:


Dear President Obama:
Four years ago you got my hope and my help to get you votes
Now you got my attention
If you want my trust and my support, you need to do more.


peace and happy fathers day.
Francisco