I’d lie if I said that Mr. Obama didn’t sell me his hope and change idea the first time around. Vote for me, he said, I’ll make the grass greener. With his powerful timbre swaying to the tune of comprehensive immigration reform, funds for new sources of energy, and affordable health care, many of us Latinos were ecstatic, especially about the first one. So, it is easy to imagine the disillusionment and resentment that was experienced when a year.. then two.. then three passed by, and still- no talk about immigration reform. True- he eventually managed to gather the badges and trophies needed to substantiate his re-election campaign appeals (i.e. Osama assassination, “Obamacare”, being more likable than Romney), but still, what about the promises he made to the fastest growing minority group in the U.S.? What about that long sought response to the minority group that will account for more than half of the growth in the US by the year 2050 (http://www.pewhispanic.org/2008/02/11/us-population-projections-2005-2050/)?
Towards the end of Obama’s first term in office, the long awaited proposition arrived. It was called The Dream Act. Well, more precisely- Dream Act Executive Order, as in short-term fix for a mammoth problem that pales all this current gun control legislation spiel in comparison. But we’ll get to that later. Basically, Obama’s executive order, one that he could’ve signed during his honeymoon period in office, was passed just when it was time to remind the Latino voters that re-elections where just around the corner. Making it -at least in my book- more of a self-serving move, than an authentic one.
But then again, if politicians where all philanthropy and hugs, then they would not really be politicians after all. In retrospect, I suppose that I perceived his signing of the executive order with a “too little, too late” mentality, because I really did believe him to be my hope and change candidate. Because, I really did tear up when he first addressed the nation as our new elected president. And because after campaigning as the Washington-outsider-who-will-take-the-politics-out-of-the-real-talk, I expected him to act that way. Although, in even more retrospect, I am a Democracy-lovin’ Latina that acknowledges that it is from politicians’ desire to win the majority of votes, that in the 60’s African Americans were finally enfranchised.
Fast forward to January 29, 2013, and on his first year of re-election, the President is finally opening the Immigration Reform conversation in the most beneficial way for Latinos; in one that demands Congress involvement. Basically, he has asked Congress to hurry up and put the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants en route to citizenship. His proposals might seem a bit familiar, and they include: “tightening security on borders, cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants and temporarily issuing more visas to clear the huge backlog of people applying for legal status in the country” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/us/politics/obama-issues-call-for-immigration-overhaul.html). And as controversial and difficult as this beginning to a long conversation might seem, Obama has finally done it. He has finally laid his heavy cards on the table. This means that we can now finally sit and wait and hope that our highly bipartisan and stubborn Congress plays nice and learn to share with one another. Hopefully, we won’t have to wait long and listen to all those heartbreaking stories about hardworking students like Olga Zanella (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/us/politics/27immigration.html) or loving fathers like Felipe Montes (http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Family/2012/1128/Deported-Mexican-dad-to-be-reunited-with-US-born-kids) being torn from the country that they call home. However, after witnessing our government in motion, swift and cooperative legislative action seems as likely as me waking up tomorrow at 6am for a jog. At least, I can firmly attest to the improbability of the latter actually happening.
Below is the President’s speech. Enjoy!