Over the weekend President Obama announced that he would make national immigration reform a priority if he is elected for a second term. “I can promise that I will try to do it in the first year of my second term. I want to try this year,” said the President on Saturday. If that sounds familiar it is because he promised to make immigration a top priority during his first term as well.
The difference is that through 2010, the Democratic Party, the President’s party, controlled both the House and Senate. The Democrats certainly don’t have that advantage now. For as much as the President talks of his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform, it looks to be a much harder battle this time around. Members of his own party aren’t even supportive of immigration reform. In December of 2010, the last time the government debated immigration legislation (the Dream Act), 5 Democratic Senators voted against the legislation.
It is by now well documented that, in addition to not pursuing immigration reform, the Obama administration has actually deported record numbers of undocumented people and overseen terrifying raids in communities across the country. His voters expected better from the President and he has not delivered.
And someone is looking to beat him to those much coveted, Latino votes. There is word circulating that Marco Rubio, Republican senator from Florida, is working on a bill that would legalize some undocumented youth, known as dreamers, but not give them all the benefits of citizenship. Is “half citizenship” better than no citizenship? It sounds like some republicans are willing to bank on it. The as-yet-unwritten bill would legalize some undocumented students but not allow them full citizenship benefits like sponsoring an immigrant relative.
The situation is desperate. Millions of families live with the fear of being separated. There is a growing list of states where it is now legal to harass someone who might be an immigrant, and the inaction of many presidential administrations has left us with two castes of people living in this country. President Obama needs to do more than try for immigration reform. He needs to fight for it.