President Obama is a lot like that boyfriend many of us have come across. He’s great, he tells you he loves you, but then doesn’t quite show it. However, right when you’re feeling the bluest and thinking of calling it quits he goes and does something wonderful making you almost forget you were mad at him.
In 2008 then candidate Barack Obama made a promise, guaranteeing that immigration reform would be submitted within the first year of his administration. And that promise swept Latinos off their feet. Not because immigration is the only thing Latinos care about but because it was such a bold stand. But in hindsight, Obama needed nothing less of a sweeping promise to win the hearts of Latinos.
Throughout the primary Latinos had avidly supported Hillary Clinton by a 2-to-1 margin. The Clintons were loved and respected in the Latino community; Barack Obama was an unknown. Coming out of the primary Obama knew he needed Latino support, lots of it and fast, particularly in the Southwestern swing states and in Florida. Shortly after Hillary Clinton’s concession speech, Barack Obama gave an interview to Univision where he made La Promesa, that he would take care of immigration in his first year. Right then and there, the Latino love for Obama was cemented.
Then once in office President Obama pushed immigration to the side. I know that healthcare reform was his top priority and that he needed all of the political capital he could get for its passage. But, the shellacking the President got in 2010 couldn’t have been much worse if he would have tacked on a comprehensive immigration reform to his agenda in the first two years when he had a congressional majority. If he had kept his promise the states wouldn’t have had to step in. The barrage of state level immigration bills would not have materialized if immigration had been dealt with from up top.
Adding insult to injury, the President stepped up deportations even surpassing President Bush’s numbers. What happened to all of the sweet talk from the beginning of the relationship?
The President has been an absent boyfriend, but he has stepped in to get our back especially up against Arizona’s SB 1070. He did come back around and tried to get the DREAM Act passed, but I have to admit I wasn’t impressed. I knew and he knew he couldn’t get it passed. But then recently, the President showed some of that boldness that made Latinos fall in love with him in the first place, he issued the executive decree allowing for deportation deferrals for young Latinos.
But why did the President wait so long to issue this executive order? Why didn’t he issue it early on when he realized that he could not keep the full promise? Much like a pair of diamond earrings I look at the executive order as a wonderful gift but I wonder if this is all I’m going to get or if it’s a sign that if I give him another try he’ll put a ring on it.
To be honest, the pool of eligible bachelors, at least in terms of immigration policy is dry. So while President Obama may not be the ideal boyfriend, there’s no one else out there. But, then again trust is the basis of any good relationship. Maybe my mom’s right and it’s best to not expect too much yet know that I will eventually find that person that truly values me.
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto is an NBC Latino contributor, Senior Analyst for Latino Decisions and Fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, at Austin.