It’s been about a year since President Barack Obama stood within a high-school auditorium and declared the “Time is Now“ for immigration reform in this country. However, since last January the efforts to make any changes to the country’s immigration policies have not made any significant accomplishments. While the attempt to reform immigration policy may not be on President Obama alone, but due to the fighting between political parties, some groups are attacking the president’s stance on immigration.
Since taking office there have been an estimated 2 million immigrants deported from the country. Some of the immigrants were non-criminal and were deported merely because of their illegal status as citizen. Because of this high deportation rate, and due to other abuses being committed because of the country’s current immigration policies, President Obama faces leaving behind a legacy that may be stained due to his lack of addressing the immigration problems this country faces.
Not wanting President Obama’s time as president to become tainted by his inaction in-regard to the rising, intensifying, issue of immigration, several Latino groups have come together in a bid to save both the president’s legacy and immigrants who face deportations and further abuse at the hands of this country’s immigration policies.
Last Wednesday, Latino groups came together to launch a new campaign within six cities aimed at holding the President accountable to the record high deportations of immigrant civilians and other abuses that are impacting the immigrant community. While the move sounds aggressive, the groups are trying to refocus the president back on settling the current issue before it officially tarnishes his legacy.
“Obama’s legacy on immigration is at a tipping point,” said Roberto Lovato, co-founder of Presente.org, “Either he starts to take action ending deportations now, or he will be forever remembered by Latinos not only as the deporter-in-chief but as the worst President in history on immigration.”
Presente.org is one of the largest Latino online advocacy organization in the U.S. and they are also one of the driving force behind the new campaign entitled the, “Obama Legacy Project,” wanting President Obama to take action on the immigration problem.
Joining Presente.org in Obama Legacy Project are the Center for Constitutional Rights, the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities, the Detention Watch Network, and the Raza Youth Collective who are just a few taking part in this joint venture.
Launched in Atlanta, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York the project is calling on President Obama to push on immigration reform while also demanding that there be an end to any future deportations.
Along with their appeal to the president, the project launched a website that aims to educate the American public regarding this country’s saddening track record about deportations and other ignored aspects regarding immigration in this country.
“We want to make the community aware of the 400,000 people who are in jail, the thousands upon thousands of ICE raids of homes and even schools, the militarization of border communities, and many other abuses committed under Obama’s presidency,” said Lovato, feeling the American public should be made aware about the injustice many immigrants are encountering due to the current immigrant policies that are in place.
When visitors who visit obamalegacy.com they will learn that of all the 97% of immigrant deportees are from the Latin American and Caribbean communities. Also, since 2010 there have been 28 people who have been killed by Border Patrol and a majority of this number were Latinos.
What the public may not know is that “immigration” crimes are now considered federal crimes. What this means what may be considered a minor violation for most citizens will be greatly different for a civilian who is an immigrant. After being convicted of a minor conviction an immigrant are routinely referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and then find themselves entangled in deportation proceedings.
There are thousands of immigrants currently sitting in federal prisons for very minor offenses. Because of this new identification of immigration crimes, Latinos represent the largest group occupying federal prisons.
To further demonstrate the repercussion of classifying immigration crimes as federal crimes let’s say you’re stopped for trespassing and are arrested, if it is your first offense you can either get off with paying a fine or if your intention was malicious you could serve some time in prison. Now, for an immigrant trespassing could mean spending a great deal of time behind bars and then deportation no matter if is a first offense.
This simple example was not just an example for Juan Carlos.
Coming to America back in 2001 with his parents and sister, Juan Carlos, 20, moved to Elmhurst, Queens and was soon on the right path. A CUNY student, Carlos is trying to achieve a life for himself by obtaining an education. However, any future plans are at risk due to a minor incident that occurred two years ago.
Denise Romero’s 20 year-old brother, Juan Carlos, is one of the many Latinos who, The siblings have lived with their parents in Elmhurst, Queens since leaving Mexico in 2001. Both attend CUNY.
“Two years ago because of stop-and-frisk my brother was arrested and charged with trespassing. He spent less than a month in Rikers but instead of just releasing him they referred him to Immigration. His final hearing will be in June and we are not optimistic,” said Denise Romero, 22, Juan’s older sister. “That’s why Obama’s legacy is under attack: he keeps deporting low-priority people despite his promises.”
The Latino groups behind Obama Legacy Project strongly believe that if President Obama ends deportations, meets with members of families disturbed by the immigration policies, and completely ends programs that permit racial profiling by Law Enforcement will be steps that could save the president’s legacy once he leaves office.
The move by President Obama or any other politician to reform this country’s immigration policies would not only be favorable to the millions of hardworking immigrants living in this country but would benefit the country and the politician themselves.
Our country is struggling in Math, Science, and Technological fields and while we want to rise up in comparison to our competition we have laws that deny anyone wanting to obtain an education or work here entry. We permit student visas for civilians of other countries to come and receive an education in our country, but kick them out when they are done rather than allow them to stay and take part in increasing our country’s standing. By becoming lenient, but thorough, on whom can become American citizens we benefit from the addition rather than suffer as we currently are.
As for the benefit for Politicians it comes by votes, ideally. By changing this country’s immigration policies and ending the “everyone gets deported” mandate you are not only pleasing immigrants and their families but you are earning potential votes. Voters who pay attention and take notice of a politician willing to make changes while facing challenges and hurdles will make that voter want to vote and help elect said politician.
Immigrants, particularly those of the Latino community, make up one of the largest population in this country. To make any decision that would harm rather than support may thwart any votes from communities closely connected to the group.
“At this point Democrats have a major Latino problem,” Lovato warned, “If I were them I would be extremely worried about the next presidential election.”
The above article by John Rodriquez is a reprint of an article that originally appeared on the latintrends.com website on April 1, 2014.