by Moses Apsan, Esq.
President Barack Obama heads to Texas next Tuesday to deliver a speech calling on congress for immigration reform, which includes the 11 million living illegally in the country.
"The speech will reflect the President's continued commitment to find a bipartisan way to create a bipartisan -- rather comprehensive immigration reform," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday. "The fact that we were not able to achieve that in the first two years only means that we need to refocus our efforts and try to find that compromise."
But at the recent “Cinco de Mayo” reception his words leave an impression that he has yet to begin work on immigration reform. "I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me -- because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. He went on to say “I want to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, to enforce our laws and also to address the status of millions of undocumented workers”
Republican leaders in the GOP-controlled House oppose anything Obama. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said “The president wasn’t able to pass his version of immigration reform when he had large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate because of bipartisan opposition, so it’s unlikely he will succeed anytime soon,”
It's not that Obama hasn't tried and his predecessor, George W. Bush, also tried to pass immigration reform but was basically ignored by his own party. Recently Obama supported, the DREAM Act --- which would have resolved a difficult moral issue by opening our doors to children brought to the US by their parents before the age of 16 provided they attend two years of college or join the armed forces. It died in the Senate under the threat of a Republican filibuster.
Obama realized early on his presidency that securing the borders would be the only hope of a successful bi-partisan legislation. To this end Obama increased the Border Patrol to 20,700 agents, doubling the amount of agents in 2004 which has led to almost 800,000 deportations in the past two years. Obama officials proudly say that Illegal immigration has dropped due to increased enforcement and the economy.
These aggressive governmental actions on immigration issues controlled by Obama, is upsetting many immigrants and supporters. Last Sunday thousands of immigrants poured into the streets of Los Angeles to demand that President Barack Obama fulfill his campaign promise to legalize millions of undocumented immigrants. And Thousands more protesters in support of immigrant and worker rights marched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There will be many more.
THE STATES GET INVOLVED
Individual states are also upset with the current immigration posture of the Obama presidency. Last Wednesday, Gov. Pat Quinn of Illinois said he was withdrawing his state from the Secure Communities program, while in California, where the program has already begun, it's Legislature is reviewing a bill that would permit counties or police agencies to decide on whether to participate. Under the program, the fingerprints of every person arrested by the police would be compared against Department of Homeland Security databases for immigration violations. This would be in addition to routine checks against the F.B.I.’s criminal databases, opening a door for easy deportation of non-criminal illegal immigrants. So far, 26 out of 102 local jurisdictions in Illinois had begun participating.
The resistance to Secure Communities has antagonized Latino immigrant communities that want Mr. Obama to press for legislation offering legal status to illegal immigrants. These are the Hispanics that strongly supported Democrats in recent elections. Even the American Immigration Lawyers Association called for suspension of the program. Yet the increase in arrests and deportations has not persuaded Republicans that the administration is working strong on enforcement.
According to Department of Homeland Security 's Statistics nearly one-third of immigrants deported under this program in Illinois had no criminal convictions. A confusion for many, as being illegal in the United States is a civil violation. It is not a crime.
And here comes the election. Obama is stepping up his appearances on immigration reform. He is now looking like the "old" Obama and appears ready to fight for immigrant rights. But is this perception true? We all know that old maxim "it's not what he says it's what he does." Well, we will shortly know if Obama's comprehensive immigration reform are just words used for his re-election or a true manifesto.