"600 Words by Esther J. Cepeda"
After July 2007's political failure to come to consensus on how to reform the currently broken U.S. immigration laws, no one wanted to touch the issue with a 10 foot pole until after the 2008 presidential elections.
The theory when like this: immigration reform would be a major sticking point in the nominating process by the two major parties and then in the final presidential contest and the debates would flesh out what a new administration's stance on immigration reform would be.
Then, once the new president took office, major gains would be made in instituting a bipartisan legislative compromise that would honor the contributions – and weigh the costs – of the millions and millions of illegal immigrants currently living and working in the U.S.
Don't hold your breath – the perfect storm that begot the current economic crisis took care of that.
Not only did the headlines start screaming about yuppies giving up their 4-dollar lattes instead of the latest workplace immigration raids, but the slumps in housing and manufacturing have driven hundreds of thousands of immigrants out of their formerly bearable "illegal enclaves" back home. Though, according to a recent Associated Press story, of the "estimated 12 million" always bandied about, approximately 500,000 illegal immigrants are actively defying deportation orders.
Already several immigrant rights groups are circulating emails calling on Obama to put immigration reform on his soon-to-be released list of top ten domestic priorities for his first 100 days.
Thinly-veiled are the insinuations that "they" – legal immigrants, supporters of illegal immigrants and minorities – are owed lenient immigration law changes for voting Obama in. Puh-leeze, as if there had been any chance in hell they would have voted for McCain/Palin even if they'd promised to eliminate all the borders.
In that spirit, more marches are being planned for Washington, DC on January 21, the day after Obama takes office as our 44 President.
Never mind that the marching tactic has not proven to do anything but stoke yet more anti-immigrant hatred. Never mind that portraying Latinos – who make up a large portion if the illegal immigrant population – as entitled flag-waivers only made everything worse for anyone who happened to be brown…there it is.
Because all things Obama and Chicago are in vogue these days, the Washington Post actually reported on a press conference Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez held Saturday spotlighting "mixed-status families" who would be torn apart by the current laws if one or more members of the family were deported. Showing how U.S. citizens’ lives could become deportation nightmares is a far better appeal than marching for "rights."
But that won’t stop them.
Buried in that Washington Post story was a small mention of Marcelo Lucero the Ecuadorian immigrant who was in the wrong place at the wrong time when a gaggle of unruly Patchogue, NY, teens went out literally hunting for "a Mexican" to attack and stabbed to death the first brown-skinned person they found. The reporter put into context how the past marches stoked ire in some communities that have experienced a large influx of legal and illegal immigrants in the past decade.
You can count on Obama not going out on a limb on such a hot-button issue so early in his presidency (who could blame him?) yet January 21 can’t come soon enough for the "manifesters" – as the marchers call themselves (roughly translated) in Spanish.
I guess when that news cycle passes, then we’ll see how many more "Mexicans" will die at the hands of people who go insane when faced with large crowds of people "demanding" immigration law reform.
Esther J. Cepeda writes the "600 Words" & "Pregunta del Dia" columns, and is also the Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission. Her views and reporting do not necessarily reflect those of ISAC. "600 words" is a registered trademark of EeJayCee, Inc., Copyright 2008. May be reprinted with permission, contact email@example.com