This Thursday, the Obama administration announced it would do a “case-by-case review of deportations, allowing many undocumented immigrants without criminal records to stay in the United States” permitting them to apply for work permits and possibly stay.
The announcement came to a surprise for many Latinos, especially for the Latino groups and immigration reform advocates. During his speech last month at the National Council of la Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S, there was no indication of a change in policy. Obama made it clear that although tempting to bypass Congress and change the laws himself that he wouldn’t because “that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions.” A lot has changed since that day.
Many believe that Obama’s decision influenced by the protest by pro-immigration reform activists protested on Tuesday in front of President Barack Obama's Chicago reelection campaign headquarters. Obama’s announcement has sparked strong protests by some Republicans. A statement from Arizona Governor Jan Brewer was released yesterday with some criticism of her own on the matter. Brewer stresses that, “we need to remind President Obama that we elected a president that serves beneath the law and did not anoint a king that is above the law.”
Nevertheless, the Latino community is reacting, as evidenced in stories by AOL Latino and HuffPost LatinoVoices bloggers such as Roberto Lavato’s, Co-founder of Presente.org, blog, “Obama's 3 Percent Solution To The Immigration Crisis Will Not Sway Latino Voters” or Aggie Hoffman’s, an immigration lawyer, blog, “But, What Will Implementation of Obama's Plan Look Like?”
For example, AOL Latino’s reporter Jorge Luis Macias’ stated how one victim of domestic violence was deported and how it affected her life.
A patient of mine was deported to Guatemala, even though she was the victim in an incident of domestic violence", said psychologist Leticia Lagar to AOL Latino. "I was able to see first hand how this impacted her life. She suffered from chronic depression after being separated from her children and husband. She was thrown out of balance and suffered from physical illness."
An important question at hand is whether Barack Obama is only doing this because he is up for election? Carlos A. Quiroz, social media activist based out of Washington D.C. said:
It is an impressive move that brings me hope as an undocumented immigrant. This is the first time the Obama administration is actually trying to do something to help immigrants and especially the Latino communities, but it's bad it's done as an effort for Barack Obama to get reelected with the Latino vote. It's a good move considering that this will protect many immigrants who are deeply immersed in the American society, in cases like mine being an undocumented gay man with almost 15 years living in the U.S.
It is only natural that the Latino community is questioning Obama’s motives especially with his statement at the National Council of La Raza just last month as highlighted in Gov. Jan Brewer’s statement released on Thursday:
“Just last month in speaking to the National Council of La Raza, President Obama rejected the idea of bypassing Congress and imposing immigration reform...We need to remind President Obama that we elected a president that serves beneath the law and did not anoint a king that is above the law.”
Governor Jan Brewer has been quoted as calling Obama's new plan, “back door amnesty” and she’s not alone. In a piece from The Washington Times, "Obama to deport illegals by ‘priority'," Texas Republican Lamar Smith is openly against Obama’s new plan and is concerned about what laws the President will or will not uphold.
“The Obama administration should enforce immigration laws, not look for ways to ignore them,” said Rep. Lamar Smith, Texas Republican. “The Obama administration should not pick and choose which laws to enforce. Administration officials should remember the oath of office they took to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the land.”
Peter Freire, a resident from North Bergen, New Jersey, complies with Governor Jan Brewer and Rep. Lamar Smith opinions on law enforcement.
I think it is an oxymoron for the man who swore to uphold the laws of this land to make a decision that rewards illegal immigration. Let's call it what it is. ILLEGAL. I am so tired of hearing the word ‘immigrants’ thrown around. They are criminals, not immigrants. Immigrants come here with visas. These people are illegal aliens. They have broken American law and that should be as inexcusable as buying an ounce of marijuana.
On both sides of the spectrum, Obama’s new plan leaves much to be desired. Even when people are allowed into the country legally, the system isn’t exactly perfect. Esther Innis, who teaches middle school in Bloomfield, New Jersey, is concerned about her students. How can students focus on school when they are facing bigger issues at home?
I had a 13 year-old student who won the lottery, and got to enter the U.S. but her parents couldn’t come with her. So she came alone. She stayed with distant family. Years later her mom finally got to join her. But what a decision that must have been for her parents to have to make. While we are a melting pot and always have been there has to be a way to work on what is wrong with the legal ways of entering the country. If so many people are willing to risk their lives and everything they have to illegally enter the country than the legal way must not be working for them.
While most remain skeptical, at least everyone can agree that the public still has many questions they want answered. Quiroz, with his 15 years contributing to this country and worries for his future still hopes that immigrant rights and political groups, “stand behind the president Obama at this moment, and show him and the country that we will stand for our rights and prove to him that we are part of the United States even if we don't have a document that proves it.”