The Latino blogosphere — yes, it does exist — was all abuzz about the meeting President Obama had today with immigrant activists. According to an AP article:
President Barack Obama is enlisting activists and labor leaders in a push for comprehensive immigration legislation that will showcase Republican opposition and include a speech by the president.
Nice to know someone else had the same idea as Latina Lista.
It’s only right to put pressure on the very people running opposition against addressing immigration reform in Congress since their inaction is only leading to the Latino community becoming more vilified in state legislatures, conservative talk shows and Main Street USA.
It’s encouraging that there’s political will in the White House to keep the issue flaming, regardless of which burner it’s placed on at this point. Because as anyone who cooks knows, the heat from a backburner can still make things pretty hot in a kitchen.
It’s up to those who are in charge of the heat whether or not they turn it up, down or off.
And unfortunately, from news reports, it seems that the very leaders the greater Latino community depends on to champion them are losing the will to turn the heat up in Congress on immigration reform.
A Politico article shared that some members of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus have already thrown in the proverbial immigration reform towel.
“There are an insufficient number of Democratic votes to pass this in the Senate or in the House,” according to Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.
Rep. Gutierrez has been one of the hardest working Latino leaders when it comes to pushing Obama not to give up on immigration reform. The guy even got himself arrested for civil disobedience in front of the White House!
So, when he says the fight is over for the time being then everyone should take notice and do one thing — pitch in!
Aside from Rep. Gutierrez and Sen. Bob Menendez, no other member of the CHC has taken a consistently public position in favor of immigration reform, and the question begs to be asked:
If there is any hope for immigration reform to be addressed in Congress in a humane way, without an overboard number of punitive measures amended to it, it’s in this legislature. It’s already speculated that Democrats will either lose their majority in Congress or be damn close to losing it after this year’s elections.
And since most in the GOP congressional leadership feel they have to teach a lesson to the Latino community for immigration infractions, there’s no counting on them for any realistic help in passing a reform that doesn’t criminalize all undocumented immigrants before making them pay literally and figuratively for what they’ve done.
So, that leaves the CHC to lead the way in the fight to get immigration reform to the floor — or, at the least, the DREAM Act.
If ever there was a time to test Latino leadership, this is it. It will take all members of the CHC to convince their colleagues that immigration reform is the right thing to do and it will take CHC members to work with Latino activists and grass-roots campaigns to get the Latino electorate to come together and exercise the kind of influence that has been dormant in this sleeping giant for too long.
If the CHC can’t do anything more than issue a collective press release urging support of immigration reform then it’s a sad day for the Latino community because it validates one observation on the minds of too many –when it comes to true Latino leadership, the Cesar Chavez/Martin Luther King, Jr.-kind that isn’t afraid if an issue is politically correct just morally right — the Latino community is still waiting for the kind of Washington leadership that doesn’t quit.
Marisa Treviño is Publisher of LatinaLista and President of Treviño TodaMedia, LLC