So here I was mindin' my own business at a spontaneous Wednesday Happy Hour on a gorgeous, balmy perfect DC PM when my friend ripped into me over my latest Latina Magazine column.
"Don't you realize that President Obama is the President, and not Congress and doesn't make laws, so he can't reform the immigration system solo? He needs Congressional Republicans on board and it'll be a cold day in el infierno when that happens. Oh yeah, and before you say he had a Democratically controlled Congress in his first term, it was actually only like 6 months before voters tossed out the Dems during the 2012 mid-term elections."
True dat, I answered. He's one of the coolest guys I know--as well dressed as he is politically sharp (and I think I'm going to set him up with one of my Dem strategist gal pals. Serious. Good. Match.)
"And one more thing, it just kills me that you liberals are moaning about the President and Democrats, creating doubt among voters who may sit out the election. I mean really, who's the option: Mitt "Self Deport Them All" Romney? You gonna hand him the election on silver platter?"
I would like to think I'm that important. But I'm not.
Let's get one thing straight, I'm not a Democrat but an Independent--been one for a long time: partly because I'm a journalist, partly because I come from a "mixed-marriage" consisting of staunch conservative Mami and bleeding heart liberal Papi, and because of my skepticism--not cynicism--born after observing special interests rule in Washington and political gridlock which have left many Americans in the lurch. Leaders, your starring role in your Washington western hurts families throughout the country.
Our spirited tertulia--tête-à-tête--shifted from hipster DC bar American Ice to my living room where we added lovin'/hatin' on Pitbull and thoughts on the Wild West of dating.
My buddy makes a lot of good points and the beauty of America is that we have the blessed right to express our opinions-all of them--and challenge each other. The difference is that my lawyer friend is a devoted voter, engaged citizen, hard-core Obama supporter--volunteering in 2008 to get out the vote. I am a blogger with the the soul of journalist. It's the President, his staff, operatives', and supporters' job to push his agenda. It my job to be critical, ask questions, be again, skeptical NOT cynical, to push back, and probe. It's a ¡Psst!, a nudge, in Facebook terms it's called a poke: remember when you made a promise? I read somewhere that gay activists got their symbolic statement from the President on his support of same-sex marriage as much because of Big Mouth Veep Joe and sweet Sasha and Malia, as for being a squeaky wheel.
Let's get one thing straight. President Obama doesn't even know I exist. That's OK since I don't write for him. I write for an emerging community whose possibilities are weighed down by its significant liabilities, for the mujeres at the heads of their families, for the young kids who don't understand the system and see it as hieroglyphics, don't feel they belong and therefore think they have zero skin in this game. It's not just me--but their hopes for the future and their disappointment--holding the President accountable.
Continue reading or click on the link below to my latest Latina Magazine column:
By Viviana Hurtado
President Barack Obama was pushed to take his “principled” stand after his gaffe-prone VP Joe Biden came out this week in support of same-sex marriage, as opposed to civil unions. Mr. Obama told ABC’s Robin Roberts that his evolution on this political hot potato issue is due to not wanting to explain to his daughters that some Americans, such as same sex couples, aren’t allowed the same legal protections as everyone else.
Watch President Obama’s remarks supporting gay marriage here.
My question (plus free political and parenting advice) to President Obama is: what will you say to Sasha and Malia when they ask why an estimated 12 million people who live and contribute millions of dollar to the economy are treated unequally and in many cases, live in terror that at any moment, their families will be ripped apart when La migra picks up and deports mami or papi?
I was one of a select group of Latinos invited last week to the White House Cinco de Mayo celebration – a “holiday” exploited by alcoholic beverage companies and politicians alike to get a piece of the coveted Hispanic market or voter. I heard President Obama rile up the audience by assuring us that he supports comprehensive immigration reform. I heard him challenge congressional Republicans, not with the sword, but with the pen. If they approve and send him a DREAM Act that legalizes and puts college and military-bound illegal immigrant students on a path to citizenship, he will sign it. Insert the crowd’s applause, sí se puede, four more years! (Read more about my experience atthis event here.)
Then the President pulled a mañana – Latinos, you will have to wait at least until “tomorrow” for immigration reform – again. Although his support of same-sex marriage is largely symbolic, it burns through precious political capital (with passage of health care and financial reform legislation using up a fair amount). Still, it is a shrewd political move months before the election intended to push likely Republican nominee Mitt Romneyfurther to the right while shoring up support among once-fervent, yet increasingly-cool independents and young voters for whom homosexuality is a non-issue. It also doesn’t hurt that one in six top “bundlers”, or those who have raked in more than $500,000 in campaign contributions to Obama 2012, are gays according to The Washington Post.
The Obama campaign is monitoring the polling, so it should come as no surprise that independent and young voters also support immigration reform. They also have reviewed the 2010 Census data that confirms the demographic boom of the Latino community is driven by U.S. births, with 50,000 Hispanics turning 18 (aka the voting age) every month.
However, Obama 2012 must have also read the news reports that Hispanic voter registration and civic engagement is not on par with this community’s population growth. Why? Voters have not registered in their new towns where they moved prompted by a layoff or foreclosure in the recession the President inherited and the slow recovery over which he presided. Others are new citizens and don’t understand the system.
But I also argue that many Latinos are turned off by a political system that makes them feel invisible. The Republicans are offering Mitt “self-deportation” Romney who is “informally” advised by Kris Krobach, the intellectual author of Arizona and Alabama’s tough immigration laws. Although the President has recalibrated federal immigration policy to favor deportations of violent felons and repeat crossers, record removals on Mr. Obama’s watch have snared thousands of non-violent undocumented immigrants – parents of U.S. citizen children, DREAMers, and others whose only offense is a broken car blinker.
Mr. Obama’s words, these promises of immigration reform, don’t match his actions: increased deportations with no “principled” line drawn in the political sand as he has done with same-sex marriage. This is where the Latino advocacy community, like those in attendance at the White House Cinco event, must come in: hold your applause, your support, and your vote until the President stands and delivers.
To read more of Viviana’s politics pieces in Latina, click here.Do you think immigration reform will be addressed – either comprehensively or in parts such as a version of the DREAM Act – before the November Election?