"I think that the anger is not placed in the right direction, and Republicans get off the hook... They did nothing and people are picketing the president. I mean, [Republicans] don't pay a price for that?" Said Nancy Pelosi recently. She has been towing the line for the Democrats which, considering her position in the Democrat Party, isn't particularly surprising. The promises from Democrats, however, have been large, while the follow-through has been disappointing: it's no wonder that, after the delay, immigrant rights groups have become fed up with a party whose president has engaged in record deportations while breaking promises.
After the Democrats have instituted a deportation machine that has failed to gain the leverage with Republicans it was supposed to and opted no to take up immigration while they had a supermajority, the question remains: what have Democrats done recently to earn the loyalty of Latino voters?
"We respect Nancy Pelosi and appreciate how much she has come out for immigration, however, we also understand that she is one of the highest-ranking politicians in the Democrat Party, and has certain responsibilities to that party she is acting on," said Cesar Vargas, Director of Dream Action Coalition.
Much like when she pushed the obviously-doomed immigration bill during the Government Shutdown, however, Rep. Pelosi is playing a political game with immigration, as are Democrats in general who leaned on the President to push relief for our families back until after midterm elections. While Democrats may want our support, especially after an anti-DACA bill passed in the Democrat-controlled Senate shortly after Obama's delay, what have they done since the politically-safe DACA program to deserve it?
To be sure, DACA isn't exactly "politically-safe" in every sense of the word: it has been attacked with bills that have passed in both the House and the Senate. It is a status, however, that has only been offered to young people brought here as children with clean records that have been here a long time: there are many hoops to jump through, and it is only offered to those who most people overwhelmingly agree should not be punished: people brought into the country as young as a few weeks old: going against DACA boils down to a "tough on babies" policy.
Frank Sharry said it best when he said "Republicans are dead to us" on immigration. That does not, however, mean that Democrats have no responsibility to the Latino and immigrant community. The president - understanding that nothing will happen in Congress after comically-sad legislative failures - promised relief from his own administration's record-high deportations. Congress has made it painfully obvious that it cannot do it's job on immigration, passing measures against the popular DACA program in both the House and Senate recently: nothing will move until the president forces it and any fool can see this.
So far in his second term, Obama, much like he did with the LGBT community in the past, is offering pleasant rhetoric, but consistently backing off of effective action when it is obvious he has the legal leeway to take it up.
"What would Rep. Pelosi say to comfort a mother whose children will be put in foster care after she is deported between now and elections," asked Erika Andiola, Co-Director of Dream Action Coalition, who recently organized a civil disobedience with undocumented mothers outside of the Democrat National Headquarters.
We aren't bringing undocumented mothers out to protest Democrats because we're playing for a political team: we don't take sides with the parties when neither is on our side. We are bringing them out because they represent the real life consequences of the political games that end with deportations and foster care for my community.
Nancy Pelosi talked about Republicans not paying a price for immigration with organizers, yet Latinos already rewarded Democrats and punished Republicans in 2012 when we voted for Obama by over 70 percent; we have not since seen the sorts of rewards that should keep voters loyal. We have demonstrated against Republicans many times and our blog is full of articles against the irrational obstruction from the GOP, but that doesn't mean that Democrats get a free pass.
Nancy Pelosi, as well as other Democrats and their supporters, have been putting out statements about how the immigrant community may be getting a better deal after the elections than they would have before the elections. Although this sounds both good and like it could be a real possibility, they will have to understand if the immigrant rights community is not willing to take a leap of faith on the word same people who so recently burned us, and will be continuing record-high deportations until it is politically convenient.