A study finds more U.S. Hispanics hold favorable views on the impact of undocumented immigration than 3 years ago. (Photo/Getty Images )

Opinion: ‘Embarrassing the President’ on immigration debate is courageous

When you witness a contentious debate unraveling from all corners of your social networks, it becomes more and more difficult to stay silent and not write about it. Such is the case of the #Dream9 story and the extreme opinions this action has generated.

I won’t spend too much time chronicling why this debate is now officially out of control, with its descriptions of “publicity stunts,” private Facebook posts being screen captured to “expose” campaign leaders and hateful words dividing immigration allies. The egos have taken over, and that is never a good thing.

However, I felt that yesterday’s HuffPost Live segment about the Dream 9 put me over the top. It was a comment by guest David Leopold, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and one of #BringThemHome’s most vocal critics, saying that the campaign’s supporters were just out to embarrass President Obama. After reading what Leopold told several outlets earlier this week, his poor choice of words really belittled organizers’ efforts. (Yes, I told him that.) Now Leopold is worried that out-of-touch immigration activists want to tarnish the President’s efforts on immigration and derail the entire reform movement.

Leopold should be worried, because he is right.

People are indeed trying to embarrass the President because quite frankly, his Administration’s immigration record is not only embarrassing, it’s pathetic.

The current immigration reform bill that is now dormant in the House of Representatives has become a sham under the guise of Sí se puede chants. As one immigration leader wrote, “How is it possible for a president to deport 1,100 people every single day and still be considered an ally or even a champion of immigration reform? The answer is, it’s not.”

So it is in this context where the “publicity stunt” of the Dream 9 is placed. You want a reason why such an action took place now, right before some mythical hopes of a reform vote were going to happen in the House ? There are 1.5 million of them. Imagine what the country would be saying right now if the President – whose administration has deported people in record numbers – were Republican instead of a Democrat. There would be a national scandal.

Instead, we are told not to speak ill of President Obama, and keep focusing on the guy who thinks all Mexicans have legs the size of cantaloupes, because that guy, Republican congressman Steve King, is really going to change his vote and support immigration reform.


The Republicans own the immigration narrative right now, to the point where they have taken a reform movement that started with promise and turned it into a bill that continues to emphasize enforcement and exclusion over common sense and inclusion. Democrats have lost their backbone months ago, if they ever had one to start. So the Dream 9 action will now make some Republicans  more extreme on this issue? How more extreme can they get?

In the meantime, Leopold and others who have chosen the safer, easier path have already settled on an extremely imperfect bill that will do little to fix the system. Just more fences, drones, and private prisons, please. And toss in a biometric ID as well.

It is during these times that I think of others who were once accused of embarrassing a President. It was the early 1960s. Civil rights leaders were creating “publicity stunts” and John F. Kennedy was in office. Such “embarrassment” led to real change in this country, and it was change that required bold action, an action that was not popular at the time.

The Dream 9 action could very well be the first of many, and if people wind up Occupying Congress to get real immigration reform passed because they see a few “misguided” youth standing up for their principles, then good.

The current immigration bill is not real reform. Here’s to the small group of people who are saying it, even if it embarrasses the President.

Opinion: Embarrassing the President on immigration debate is courageous julio nbc final politics NBC Latino News

Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77 ) founded LatinoRebels.com in May, 2011 and proceeded to open it up to about 20 like-minded Rebeldes. His personal blog, juliorvarela.com, has been active since 2008 and is widely read in Puerto Rico and beyond.  In the past 12 months, Julito represented the Rebeldes on Face the NationNPRUnivisionForbes, and The New York Times.


  1. Reblogged this on Franky Benítez and commented:

    My latest for NBC Latino

%d bloggers like this: