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Sandip Roy Headshot

Did Obama Kill Immigration Reform in the State of the Union?

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I think President Obama just killed comprehensive immigration reform.

If he did, he killed it gently, with a pat on the head. Actually to be fair, he did not kill it. He sent it to the back of the bus. Behind the gays and lesbians.

The gays got the promise of the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. And a reminder that he's already given them Employee Non-Discrimination.

Immigration reform got a casual platitude.

And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -- to secure our borders, enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nations.

12 million undocumented immigrants deserved more than those 38 words.

"Continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system."

Does that imply that Congress or the White House have been already busy fixing our broken immigration system? Were they doing it during the rest breaks in the middle of health care reform gridlock? If so, I missed the memo.

Yes, Department of Homeland Security has been tweaking the system, re-examining Bush-era diktats, looking at the conditions of detention centers. But that's not fixing a broken system, it's not even duct taping it. That is just sweeping at the edges with a fly whisk.

But it says something for our nation's mood that President Obama felt more confident promising repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell than taking on the immigration hot potato. Perhaps the defenders of Prop 8 in the courts in San Francisco had a point when they said that gays don't need the protection of the court. It's a community with a lot of political clout already.

The tragedy is, that when the cultural tides are sweeping towards gay marriage, the president offered gays the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- a promise that seemed fresh and exciting in the first days of the Clinton presidency. Now it seems like yesterday's leftover promise.

But at least gays got the leftovers. The immigrants who had demanded comprehensive immigration reform were gently told "Not right now. With 10 percent unemployment, it's too risky. We must wait for the right time."

I remember when they would tell that to the gays.