President Obama has decided to delay action on immigration policies until after the November elections. The White House has acknowledged that part of the reason for the delay is the fear that any decisions made would negatively impact the Democrats in this upcoming election. The Democratic Party is hoping that by not addressing immigration at this time they will be able to continue to hold a majority in the Senate. The other reason for the delay stems from concerns that any moves made during election season could be swept up in the heat of battle and the far-reaching immigration reforms that the president wants would be doomed.
The president has addressed this delay by saying that he wants the public to be informed of what the facts are in regards to immigration. President Obama wants the people to understand that his decision is for sustainable reforms that stretch beyond his presidency. While the president and the White House have made it clear that they plan to take action on immigration reform prior to the end of the year, his decision to delay action has been met with negativity.
Immigration rights groups, as well as the president’s Republican critics, are denouncing the decision. Republicans see the delay in immigration reform as a tactic in a political game. Activists working with undocumented immigrants are reacting with anger and believe that the president is showing that he is more concerned with politics than making a change. While the Democrats are standing behind the president’s decision and saying that they understand the reason for it, the activists and other individuals working towards immigration reform are not as understanding.
Delaying action on immigration reform has sparked distrust within the Latino community. Many have offered up the fact that the president has been saying since he ran for office that there would be reforms made and nothing has changed, as a reason for the distrust. For the last six years the president has been making promises to reform immigration policies and nothing has changed, for many activists the belief is that this is just another delay tactic.
One group seeking to get people to register to vote hopes that this decision gets the Latino people to go out and vote. The director for the group believes that while people will not vote out of sympathy for the president, they may go out and vote in order to elect people who will listen. The group believes that electing officials who will support their goals and best interests will give the push needed to legitimately reform immigration policy.
The frustrations that activists and illegal immigrants are dealing with come from the continued disappointments. When the Dream Act, which would have allowed young people brought illegally into the country to seek citizenship, was unable to pass Congress in 2010, many blamed the president. For many this was another case of the president not trying hard enough to make a change.
This latest delay in action gives immigration reform activists another reason to not have faith in the president. While activists deal with their anger and frustration over one more delay, the president believes that this delay is needed. Instead of pushing immigration reform into the heat of elections, the hope is to give the reforms their own spotlight. Until the election season is over, immigration reform will continue to wait.
By Kimberley Spinney