"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Fool me once...shame on - shame on you

by Fidel "Butch" Montoya

“But one thing they never believed in their wildest dreams is that President Obama would have a record like this, where he surpassed the Bush administration in deportations,” Wilkes said. “It is unconscionable to have over 387,000 deported in the first year of an Obama presidency, and our community is angry.”

These are the words of Brent Wilkes, executive national director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, or LULAC, who recalled the words of candidate Obama who promised to include immigration reform in his first year as President.

Not only has LUCAC, one of our country’s most respected Latino civil rights groups, been deceived, but more and more Latinos are coming to the realization that Candidate Obama is not President Obama. Candidate Obama promised to push reform, and President Obama has forgotten his promise.

It is hard to believe that under the Obama Administration, more families of undocumented immigrants have been separated and deported. On any given day, more than 32,000 immigrants are in detention under President Obama.

For a community that believed Candidate Obama, and supported him with over 70% of their votes, the Latino community has been sorely disappointed and hurt by the promises made by Barack Obama while he was a candidate.

Over 5.5 million U. S. citizen children have at least one parent who is undocumented immigrant. The Obama Administration is responsible for more undocumented immigrants being detained and deported while creating families that are now separated facing undo hardship and heartache.

The Obama Administration has no shame when it comes to destroying families by deporting them, but what is worst, is the number of undocumented immigrants who have committed no crime other than a civil violation of illegally crossing the border. Undocumented immigrants are being held for a civil violation no more serious than running a red light or failure to stop at a stop sign.

Pramila Jayapal, the executive director of the Seattle-based OneAmerica Group believes the Obama Administration “seems proud to out-enforce the Bush Administration.” Why has President Obama taken a hard line on enforcement when he promised to address this issue in his first year as President and to do it in a more humane fashion?

We were deceived by Candidate Obama when he promised to deal more humanely with the issue of undocumented families being separated, detained, and deported. In fact, during the last year of the Bush Administration, his administration deported 120,000 less undocumented immigrants than the total 387,000 deported by President Obama in his first year.

Wilkes says our community is angry about being lied to about the immigration policy Candidate Obama promised he would follow as President. His Administration has been far more enforcement heavy than any Latino civil rights group could have imagined. But is being angry enough?

Under pressure of the March 21st demonstration planned for Washington, D.C., President Obama finally met with New York Senator Chuck Schumer and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham about the federal legislation they are working on.

While this was a good PR move, no one seems to know what the Schumer/Graham immigration reform legislation will look like. Will this be a case where immigration reformers are so desperate to see a reform bill go forward that they will accept whatever Schumer/Graham proposes?

Much like the Gutiérrez CIR-ASAP bill which many Latino immigration reform activists claim is enforcement heavy and have refused to support. Will this be the same situation with the Schumer/Graham attempt at immigration reform as well?

How can we support federal legislation on comprehensive immigration reform if we don’t know what is in the bill?

As the thousands gather for the March 21st Comprehensive Immigration Reform demonstration in Washington, D.C., let’s hope they don’t endorse any federal legislation that Schumer/Graham and President Obama propose unless we have had an opportunity to weigh in on the specifics of the bill.

Just because we want comprehensive immigration reform now, doesn’t mean we should accept anything handed to us. For those who attend the March 21st demonstration, go slow….and let’s make sure we don’t accept “just any immigration bill” just because we are desperate for reform.

After the promises made by Candidate Obama, let’s make sure we do not just accept his word anymore. We need to make sure our concerns and issues are included in any federal legislation on comprehensive immigration reform and we do that by making sure our fingerprints are all over any proposed reform bill.

What did President Bush say once? “There’s an old saying in Tennessee – I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee – that says, fool me once, shame on – shame on you. Fool me – you can’t get fooled again.”

We know what he meant.


Fidel "Butch" Montoya is Director of H.S. Power and Light Ministries. He was the Vice President/News Director of KUSA Channel 9 News from 1985-1990, and worked at the news station for 24 years. Montoya also served as Deputy Mayor of City and County of Denver from 1995-1999; as the Manager of Public Safety for the City and County of Denver from 1994-2000. Montoya was Licensed to preach in 1972.

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