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Opinion: President Obama can’t allow the “death” of immigration reform

Last month President Obama spoke at the White House in front of a sympathetic crowd of immigration rights groups and told the world the following: “We should pass immigration reform.  It’s good for our economy.  It’s good for our national security.  It’s good for our people.  And we should do it this year.”

He also added, “And if folks are really that consumed with the politics of fixing our broken immigration system, they should take a closer look at the polls because the American people support this. ”

The President urged all those in the room and all those pushing for reform to “keep putting the pressure on all of us to get this done.”

But this week, when asked  about the future of immigration reform, President Obama said, referring to Republicans, “If they want to chop that thing up into five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like. What we don’t want to do is simply carve out one piece of it…but leave behind some of the tougher stuff that still needs to get done.”

Sure, the President still believes that the end goal is complete reform, but why is the “comprehensive” being taken out now?

Is his promise to get a bill passed broken again? Are he and Democrats getting ready for a mid-term fight that will try to vote the GOP out of the House? Or is this more political pragmatism that will lead to inaction?

Such remarks and shift come at a time where President Obama is facing sobering numbers: 47 percent of Latino voters disapprove of the President, while 41 percent approve. Last year as he faced re-election, the President promised (again) that immigration reform will be a priority for his second term – and Latino voters delivered.

One year later, Latino voters are still waiting.  And while many —both progressives and conservatives— are criticizing Obama’s campaign promises, there is also a sense of deep skepticism. Immigration reform will likely never happen until 2014 (if that) and yet Latino voters kept getting told to “put the pressure on.”

Newsflash: the pressure has been put on for a year, and nothing. Nada. But “sí se puede” in 2014!

Those in the Obama camp will keep telling you: blame the GOP. It’s not us, it’s them. That excuse would have worked if the President continued to promote comprehensive reform from the bully pulpit. Now after this week’s remarks, who knows?

And if you even begin to bring this up, you are instantly seen as anti-Obama and anti-community. I would argue differently. Those Americans who question canned political messages and leadership flaws, who don’t see this issue through a partisan lens, who actually believe (quoting the President again) that passing real immigration reform “is the right thing to do” won’t give up. They will continue to frame this as an American issue and not one that has been tainted by both Republican and Democratic leaders.

The President, if he is going to earn the Latino vote he swept in 2012, needs to lead. Backing down from another promise to pass reform now still falls on him as the leader of this nation. Going into “piecemeal” mode will just keep the system he has constantly labeled as “broken” still broken.

It starts with real action.

Stop the 1,100 deportations a day. Yes, the President has the power to fix that. Does he really want to? The pro-Obama crowd will lay blame on a Congressional quota surrounding deportations but the fact remains: the President can do something about it. This is not me saying this. This is exactly what Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez said a few weeks back: “There are devastating effects if the Congress of the United States cannot enact comprehensive immigration reform – then the president of the United States has the responsibility to act to defend those immigrants which he says he wants to provide safety and justice for.”

Yet in the end, criticizing President Obama is viewed as being counter-productive and illogical.

Mr. President, will you listen? Or will you forever be known as the President whose administration has deported over two million individuals?

That is the issue here, and those Americans who ask that question should continue to do so.

Opinion: President Obama cant allow the death of immigration reform julio nbc final 1 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

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