Univision’s Jorge Ramos told President Obama at the presidential forum in Coral Gables, Florida, that: “You promised that, and a promise is a promise,” Ramos told Obama. “And with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.” Mr. Ramos was referring to Obama’s failure to get comprehensive immigration reform in his first term as president. President Obama attributed it, the fact that no reform was put into place, to his focus on the economy and he also blamed the Republicans in Congress.
But he did accomplish passing healthcare and financial reform, and why not immigration reform? Yet on August 14th of this year, the Obama administration, through an executive order and therefore bypassing the Congress, announced the implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA. This could stop the deportations of more than 1 million young undocumented immigrants who would have otherwise qualified for the failed DREAM Act by providing them with a two-year visa, if they qualified. Now, this occurred in August, 2012 and a few months before the election. Why couldn’t this have been done earlier? Why were those millions of young people made to hide unnecessarily within the shadows afraid of being identified and deported?
Speaking of deportations, as of July, 2012, the Obama Administration has deported 1.4 million illegal immigrants since 2009 — that’s 1.5 times more immigrants on average than the Bush Administration deported. But in addition to the increase rise in deportations, the Obama Administration is pushing for the implementation of the Secure Communities Program by 2013. This program would force local law enforcement to share fingerprints of those taken into custody with the Department of Homeland Security, which has immigration records, through the FBI. How is this any different to the controversial laws enacted in Arizona and Alabama, whose main goal is to identify undocumented individuals, leading to their deportation?
Yes, President Obama promised the Latino community comprehensive immigration reform but the record has been very spotty. In fact, more movement regarding immigration issues have occurred recently, before the 2012 election. And maybe the strategy worked to the extent that Latino voters favor President Obama over Mitt Romney by 72% to 22%.
Later in the presidential forum in Coral Gables forum Obama was asked what has been his biggest failure as president. Without hesitation he said: “As you remind me, my biggest failure is that we haven’t gotten comprehensive immigration reform done.” He further added: “So we’re going to be continuing to work on that. But it’s not for lack of trying or desire.”
If President Obama is to win a second term, he’ll know that it will be in part due to the Hispanic vote going in his favor by a large margin in key battleground states. And if he is fortunate enough to win a second term, he has to remember that “…a promise is a promise.”