Deportation Review a Textbook Example of Effective Activism
Roberto Lovato, who I interviewed for my story yesterday about the new Obama Administration order to do a case-by-case review of all deportations in the system, winnowing out the non-criminals in favor of those convicted of serious crimes, reiterated his thoughts in a Huffington Post op-ed. He remains an uncompromising figure.
While the administrative changes are an important change for some of the 300,000 people that may benefit from the President’s shift on immigration policy, the announcement of these new policies may actually end up creating more credibility issues among Latino voters, many of whom are wondering whether they will again support Candidate Obama.
Consider, for example, how today’s announcement of the president’s deployment of his administrative discretion contradicts the repeated and vociferous statements he made about not being able to use his executive authority to, for example, stop deporting DREAM Act-eligible students. As recently as last week, on the eve of and in response to our National Day of Action, President Obama said in an interview with Latina magazine about our long-held demands that he used his executive authority to stop deporting DREAMers, “Well, the truth of the matter is that we have exercised as much administrative discretion as we can.” […]
The Administration’s changes to immigration policy do little to help the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who are not currently in deportation proceedings. The vast majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States will still wake up tomorrow in fear of the possibility that President Obama will continue to authorize and send heavily-armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to tear down their door and put a gun in their face, or in the face of their children in one of the daily middle-of-the-night raids.
While there will be a temporary jolt of excitement amidst the confusion and diversionary euphoria of Thursday’s announcement, Latino voters are no longer apt to forget President Obama’s failure to fundamentally alter or abolish devastating immigration policies like the SCOMM program, which was the impetus for our recent National Day of Action. In this sense, the Obama Administration’s announcement represents a (Less Than) 3% Solution to the crisis that his administration has caused in the lives of the more than 1 million immigrants he has already deported, the majority of whom have committed no crime other than seeking a better life for them and their families.
At the same time, Lovato’s organization, Presente.org, sent an email to supporters with the subject headline “Breaking: Obama heard us,” that presents a more measured view, albeit with the same bottom line:
This amazing turnabout would not have happened without Presente.org members like you who have been writing, calling and chipping in to media campaigns calling the President out on this. Thank you for your activism. We will closely monitor this new policy to ensure our voices are heard during its implementation.
But our work is NOT done. President Obama is still sticking by his dangerous S-COMM policy–a highly criticized law that forces police officers to act like immigration officials, puts countless immigrant families at risk and tears hundreds of thousands of families apart. Yesterday’s announcement also does little to help the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants who are not currently in deportation proceedings.
As long as S-COMM is still on the books, the administration will continue ripping our families apart–something he explicitly promised would not happen during his campaign in 2008.
The Latino activists still have a higher goal in mind, and they refuse to be appeased. They have seen this Administration respond to pressure and they want to tee that up again. This was through a combination of factors: the upcoming election, unrelenting activism, great advocacy through real analysis on what S-Comm has been doing to families, work through the courts to force the release of details about the program.
Ultimately, this is what activism is all about. Some would call it unreasonable, some would call it over-idealistic, some would call it “neglectful of political realities”, but they would also have to call it effective. 300,000 people caught up in a Kafka-esque nightmare got a rare and needed break today, and it didn’t come through clapping or fretting over if it will hurt someone’s re-election. And, it doesn’t stop until the goal gets realized.