By Fidel "Butch" Montoya
As we approach the historical event of the Presidential Inauguration, our nation seems posed and prepared for the changes President-elect Barack Obama promised during the election campaign.
There is a sense of hope and great expectation in the air that a new administration will bring about the necessary changes needed for our nation to remain a world leader and power.
Most Americans can sense the historical aspect of our country’s first African-American President taking office.
Meanwhile, many proponents of comprehensive immigration reform look forward to the changes President-elect Obama will be proposing and supporting. In fact, those who support comprehensive immigration reform felt the new incoming president would have at least voiced his support for the challenge facing immigration reform as he prepares to take the oath of office.
Instead, of working to solve pressing policy issues regarding reform, we find our nation facing the most serious economic crisis since the depression of the 1930’s.
There is no doubt the economy has the full attention of the new President as he prepares to take office. Everywhere we look, we see more and more signs our economy weakening, and the economic free fall continuing.
The world is looking for the United States for leadership in facing this global economic crisis, but there questions as to whether or not we can resolve the money problems unless the leadership from both political parties are working together.
In fact, columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times writes, “The fact is that recent economic numbers have been terrifying, not just in the United States but around the world. Manufacturing, in particular, is plunging everywhere. Banks are not lending; businesses and consumers are not spending. Let’s not mince words: This looks an awful lot like the beginning of a second Great Depression.”
Krugman says Obama will need to put his full energy and attention in bringing about the critical economic changes needed. “If we don’t act swiftly and boldly,” declared President-elect Barack Obama in his latest weekly address, “we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double-digit unemployment.”
While we wait for the Congress to work closely with President-elect Obama on the economic crisis facing our nation, unfortunately other pressing issues are not receiving the necessary attention required to prevent those serious problems and concerns from becoming larger.
Immigration watchers expected to see a much larger exodus of undocumented immigrants leaving our country because of the poor economy here in our country. While there are fewer jobs now, undocumented immigrants are looking for ways to survive the slow economy without having to leave the USA.
Less money is being sent home to families in Mexico and other countries that depend on the money to survive and keep families together. Our economy is affecting the livelihood of thousands of families who depend on a good economy up North.
President-elect must face this growing crisis before it becomes a far greater issue and concern for our country. While our country is in a free fall as far the economy is concerned, Mexico is in a criminal free fall.
Hundreds of families with relatives in the United States are facing the violence of hooded criminals who are holding kidnapped family members ransom. Criminals in Mexico know what families have relatives in the United States and are demanding money in order for kidnapped relatives to be set free.
The New York Times reports, “A string of similar kidnappings, singling out people with children or spouses in the United States, so panicked this village in the state of Zacatecas that many people boarded up their homes and headed north, some legally and some not, seeking havens with relatives in California and other American states.”
While many immigration policy makers expected to see more immigrants leaving and returning to their homes, some undocumented immigrants are making the tough decision to stay and face the danger of ICE raids, racism, and the prospect of little or no work.
The situation in Mexico is growing more and more serious by the day. While Mexico has declared war on the drug lords, serious and vicious crimes have been committed against army, police, and civilian targets.
Corruption is everywhere. It has been reported that during the day, police officers fight the drug lords, and on their own time, they work part-time for the very same drug lords.
The crime so prevalent in Juarez or Tijuana has spread to all parts of Mexico. In one small town in Mexico, of the 400 houses there, 200 have been boarded up, with the families who lived there leaving to find safety and security in the United States.
If Mexico continues to slide toward more civil unrest, it is clear the ramifications will be felt here in the United States. We could see thousands of Mexicans fleeing their homes to find safety in our country. Instead of looking for jobs, they will come looking for a safe place to live.
It is imperative that President-elect Obama look at resolving some of the problems of undocumented immigrants wanting to stay in our country.
If given a choice, it seems many Mexicans are prepared to deal with ICE raids and job insecurity than the fact that family members might be kidnapped and held for ransom or even murdered by the drug lords.
The growing demand for illicit drugs in our country has created a stronger criminal element in Mexico that seeks to destroy Mexican democracy. While we fight a war in the Middle East to establish an Iraqi democracy, we are facing the destruction of one of the most stable democracies south of our border.
Comprehensive immigration reform will address some of the issues related to the violence and crime in Mexico, but if President-elect Obama’s team of advisers continue to ignore the growing crisis in Mexico, we could face a nation along the 2000-mile border falling under criminal dictatorship without any regard for the violence that will surely cross that border.
We need for our leaders in the Congress to lead and quit the partisan bickering and infighting. It is time our leaders from both sides of the political spectrum to work
with President-elect Obama on resolving serious problems facing our nation.
If we do not stand together, resolving to face the serious issues confronting our country, we are truly sliding much more quickly into an economic and social depression never seen before.
Fidel “Butch” Montoya
H. S. Power & Light Ministries – Latino Faith Initiative
Denver, Colorado 80212