Immigration reform advocates losing patience with Obama
The immigration reform crowd is just one of the many constituencies losing patience with President Obama. At New America Media, I have a new article today checking in with activists across the country and how they see the immigration reform battle a year since Obama took office promising sweeping changes. From the advocates’ P.O.V., it doesn’t look pretty. And they’re planning to escalate their campaign:
Subhash Kateel thinks impatience with President Obama’s immigration agenda has begun to boil over. An immigrant advocate in Florida, Kateel says there is a potent mix of frustration and disappointment percolating through immigrant communities nationwide.
President Obama promised sweeping changes to the immigration system before taking office and raised immigrants’ hopes, says Kateel. Instead of delivering, the administration has maintained the status quo: high-handed enforcement tactics that separate families and funnel immigrants into substandard immigration courts and detention centers.
“Yeah, things are changing,” says Kateel, who works for the Miami-based Florida Immigrant Rights Coalition. “They’re getting worse. That’s what we hear on the ground.”
Kateel is one among many immigrant advocates nationwide who sees a need to reignite the immigrant rights battle with more imaginative and hard-hitting tactics.
Besides a planned March 21 protest on the National Mall in Washington, DC in part modeled on the Rev. Martin Luther King’s historic demonstration, advocates have begun endorsing more radical protest tactics. There have been hunger strikes, noisy protests in far-flung unexpected parts of the country, and highly organized efforts to publicly shame public figures who have built their reputations on attacking illegal immigration, such as Lou Dobbs and Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio.There has also been an effort to come up with tactics that capture people’s imaginations, like the five South Florida twenty-something community college students who embarked on the “Trail of Dreams,” a 1,500-mile walk from Miami to Washington, DC through some of the southeast’s most bitter immigration battlefields.
Although unemployment and Capitol Hill partisan gridlock make immigration an uphill battle ahead of the November 2010 midterm elections, my article presents the flip-side of that reality. If there’s no good faith effort by the White House on its promises to revamp immigration, there are quite a number of people out there who will be angry, and will not be willing to let the administration off the hook.