|Photograph: Los Angeles Times, Cliff Owen / Associated Press / November 8, 2012|
President Obama increased his appeal among Latino voters from 67% to 71% in four years despite the fact that he reneged on his central 2008 campaign promise to "fix our broken immigration system." This overwhelming support may actually undermine the cause of immigration reform, because it tells the Democrats that the Latino vote is solidly on their side regardless of specific policy stances. This has the dangerous consequence of handing the issue over to theRepublicans and their exclusionary, divide-and-conquer approach. Latinos should accept neither Democratic backpedaling nor a new Republican ploy, but push for more comprehensive and inclusionary solutions.
Obama has blamed the Republicans for his failures on immigration reform. But the record speaks for itself. During the fall of 2010, the final months of a Democratic-led Congress, the president had a golden opportunity to push through key legislation. He successfully put his political capital on the line to overcome aggressive GOP opposition to the acceptance of gays in the military and to a new nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia.
But the president refused to do the same to guarantee a path to citizenship for up to 1.7 million responsible, mostly young Latino students through the Dream Act. As a result, the bill fell short of overcoming filibuster by only five votes in the Senate. Widespread Latino social mobilization and consciousness-raising was successful at setting the agenda and garnering enough potential GOP support for its passage. But the lack of presidential leadership provided the political space for five senators from Obama's own party to vote against ending debate.
Obama has also violated the trust of the Latino population by deporting undocumented immigrants at a frenzied pace. In four years, he set an all-time record by expelling 1.4 million people. This is especially remarkable given the fact that unauthorized border crossings have gone down significantly during his administration. In fact, Obama's deportation rate is 1.5 times higher than that of George W. Bush, even though Bush was president in the midst of an unprecedented groundswell of illegal immigration...
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