As many know, the effort to promote immigration reform has been increasingly on the table since the administration of George W. Bush who promised in Spanish to do it. Then 9/11 happened and a wounded nation turned to make war in strange places, leaving our domestic priorities for another time.
The resulting deficits spiraled out of control as the Great Recession took root draining the country’s resources and threatening the collapse of our financial system.
Throughout the period the Latino community continued to support President Bush in large numbers including increasing its support by five percent to over 40 percent to help elect him to a second term.
The Latino community showed a lot of support for Bush despite the increasing invectives launched against Latino immigrants by extreme right wing members of the conservative movement and other racist allies on radio, television and in the streets of America. This assault on the dignity of the Latino community changed the way in which the conversation about how the priority of the country were to be addressed.
It is clear that in the larger scheme of things, immigration reform is perhaps not as immediately important as are jobs, the economy and the growing divide between the upper one percent and the rest of us. But for the Latino community, it is has become the starting place for a dialogue on the affairs of the nation.
If politicians want to present their case to Latinos, they have to start with their position on immigration reform and the DREAM Act. Then, the community will entertain a conversation on the other important issues of the day.
Congress has not seen fit to act to normalize the lives of undocumented Latinos in the fields, the cities and the schools. Through its inaction, it has also chosen to punish young men and women who came to this country as little boys and girls and know no other culture and way of life than that of the United States.
Some time ago, the Obama administration announced that in the interest of holding families together it would modify some of the immigration rules to allow undocumented spouses of American citizens to serve their waiting period for a change in their immigration status within the borders of the United States. Now it has announced a modification of the rules to exercise professional discretion with respect to individuals who came to America as children.
This temporary substitute for the DREAM Act is another initiative that goes around the normal political process to get things done. While there is a general positive reaction on the part of Latinos, there is this lingering feeling that this is a sneaky way to solve a real need.
But this is a presidential election year and Latinos are in the center of the radar screen. Democrats got a jump-start on earning their favor to the tune of at least 60 percent.
There is another 40 percent of Latinos out there somewhere waiting to see what else is coming down the pike. The muted Republican reaction to the announcement that benefited the Dreamers shows signs of a possible politically driven change of heart about what they have been against for so long.
Republican senator and would-be vice presidential candidate, Marco Rubio is even developing his version of the DREAM Act in Congress. How far that will go is anybody’s guess.
The administration’s action on the Dreamers is a cause for celebration and deserving of support. However, it is still a poor way to run a railroad and we can do better.