I think that the legislative timing for an immigration reform in Congress is already slipping away for this legislative year. I also think that there is a growing gap between what President Obama is doing (or should be doing) on behalf of a comprehensive immigration reform and what pro-immigrant organizations are doing (or should be doing) in order to be ready for a coordinated action at a national level whenever the timing is right and the need to exert pressure on Congress becomes a must.
If President Obama means to sponsor a comprehensive immigration reform for this legislative period, he should be closing deals right now with members of Congress in order to have a significant number of votes whenever he is ready to support a national campaign on behalf of a comprehensive immigration reform. Pro-immigrant organizations should be ready to exert pressure on Congress through citizens and noncitizens' mobilization as well. When? Well… this task is due basically for yesterday, or for today, the latest. Why? Because it is during these days that members of Congress look back at their constituencies and weight the political costs and benefits of supporting a comprehensive immigration reform.
If Congress people see only a bunch of anti-immigrant letters, for example, but zero pro-immigrant letters on their desk… chances are very high that the wishy-washy members of Congress, those who may or may not support the initiative, may not support it at all. Pro-immigrant organizations probably should be mobilizing their constituency for this end at this point of the political calendar.
It seems that if you are a pro-immigrant leader, activist or organizer and you are not mailing or faxing letters to your Representative, Senator or the White House, well, you are wasting precious, non renewable time. If you are waiting for President Obama to announce the initiative but you have not done anything in order to increase the chances for such announcement to happen, then you may not be part of the solution, but part of the problem. The gap between what Obama may do and what the pro-immigrant organizations can do is growing, not closing. And this is dangerous if we want to be realistic about the chances for a comprehensive immigration reform to take place during 2009 or even 2010.
For example, here you have the transcription of a letter that Houston’s ARCA (Association for Residency and Citizenship of America) is circulating among its members (and public in general) and faxing to the White House. OJO: in order for these letters to be effective, they only need the name of the person, the city, state and Zip Code. No need to write anything else. It is time to reach out people, and people to respond and defend their own interests. Nothing happens to those who sign the letters if they sign them with the very basics, but a lot may happen to immigrants and their families here and there if they are not signed and faxed to Washington D. C. at all. The stakes are very high.
White House Chief of Staff
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. Emmanuel:
On behalf of my family and the families of those suffering the consequences of the damaging raids and family separation, we appreciate the opportunity given to the nationally syndicated radio talk show better known as “Piolin” into the Oval Office for a sit-down interview with the President over immigration reform. However, our families and the Hispanic voters who supported President Obama, are getting tired of too much politics and little action.
There’s going to be growing frustration if we don’t see some tangible and real signals that immigration reform is going to be carried out this year. We believe President Obama needs to give a speech or somehow make clear this summer that he wanted Congress to act on immigration reform. Until now, all you are seeing is new enforcement rules, and more restrictions, but very little on a clear path to citizenship for the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States.
We understand that the country is struggling, but we are part of the struggling group and our hardship is ever extremer than anyone else’s, because we face deportation and family separation every day.
Your support is moving this issue forward is crucial, and our Hispanic community who supported this Administration deserve some of your attention.
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