Time to keep promises, advocates tell Obama

New YorkImmigrant advocacy organizations from all over the United States last week urged President Obama to take swift action to put an end to “the deportation enforcement machine” that is leaving families torn apart. The groups have told the president to move “without delay” and finally fulfill the promises he made earlier this year to effect immigration reform.

Obama was originally going to take action on immigration reform in the summer, only to delay it until after the midterm elections this month to try to avoid a voter backlash against the Democrats – a move that seems not to have worked, given the Republican victory last week. “The president took a major gamble in delaying executive action until after the election in an effort to save Democratic seats,” says Cesar Vargas, spokesman for the DREAM Act Coalition. “The gamble failed.”

Vargas says that Democrats were spurned by Latino voters in important states such as Nevada and Colorado, with many either staying home or voting independent because they felt betrayed by Obama breaking his promises about immigration reform. Despite the Republican midterm victory, Obama claims that he still intends to enact reform via executive action, although he maintains his preference for Congress to move on the issue.

At an Alliance for Citizenship news conference on Thursday, advocates still seemed optimistic that the president would finally make good on his promises. “Because for DREAMers, this is not about politics,” the group’s managing director, Cristina Jimenez, notes. “This is about our families and people like my dad and my mom.”