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Cristina Jiménez

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Both Congress and President Obama Have the Power to Stop the Pain in Immigrant Communities

Posted: 11/01/2013 1:05 pm

Though Congress has finally resolved the politically manufactured government shutdown, the majority of Americans continue to blame the Republican party for holding the country hostage and threatening global financial catastrophe. The GOP's political prospects look dimmer than ever. But with an issue like immigration reform, Republicans can start to pull themselves out of the electoral and political hole they've been digging. A good way to start redeeming themselves would be simply taking action on a bipartisan policy solution that the broad majority of Americans, and a majority of Congress, supports -- immigration reform.

Speaker Boehner needs to allow immigration reform a vote. The immigrant youth movement and our allies will not let him off the hook if he fails to deliver. In fact, we won't let any Member of Congress get away with denying our families the opportunity to earn their citizenship and the permanent protections that come with citizenship, as well as the chance to pursue our dreams and more fully contribute.

The cost of inaction is staggering. Too many families have been divided; too many parents are scared to take their children to school or worry when they leave for work that they won't return home again; too many workers are exploited by their employers and too many young people see their potential cut short.

Earlier this month, President Obama gave a speech calling for immigration reform, reiterating his remarks on Univision that immigration reform is his top priority now that the debt ceiling and fiscal showdown is finally behind us.

But President Obama's actions so far have only fueled the moral crisis our nation faces on immigration. Under his watch, nearly 2 million people have been taken from their families and homes due to his senseless deportation quota. His administration has failed to implement sound policy on deportation; while their ostensible focus is on individuals who pose a risk or have committed a serious crime, the facts on the ground tell a different story. The Obama administration has not followed its own guidelines on prosecutorial discretion regarding who should be a high priority for deportations. Tens of thousands of hard-working men and women have been deported simply for being here without papers and trying to provide for their families and forge a better future.

While we push Congress to step up and govern, we also continue to keep the heat up on President Obama. Inaction from both Congress and Obama leads to 1,100 deportations every single day -- fathers and mothers torn from their children, workers taken from their jobs, church members ripped from their congregations.

When those who claim to support immigration reform seek to tamp down on pressure on the White House, as the Bipartisan Policy Center recently did, claiming any Presidential actions to alleviate deportations would rile up Congressional Republicans and block immigration reform, they dismiss the very real pain in our communities.

Too many Republicans have shown that they'll look for any excuse to block immigration reform or to rally behind the bare minimum that they think will score them some political points. Yes, the GOP says they can't trust President Obama or work with him on immigration reform. But it's up to those of us pushing for legislation for our families and communities to refuse to let our movement be divided or let either party or the president of the hook.

Both parties and both branches of government need to stop the political posturing, show Latino voters they're serious about this issue, and deliver real relief to the undocumented community.

 

Follow Cristina Jiménez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UWDCristina

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