President Obama boldly moves on immigration reform

The following is a press statement from SEIU on President Obama's immigration reform speech today given in El Paso, Texas.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a powerful speech at the Texas-Mexico border today, President Obama addressed the economic imperative for comprehensive immigration reform to grow and protect jobs for all workers. The president also outlined the enormous security improvements that have been made along the border in recent years, including the doubling of border patrol agents since 2004 and the deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles that now patrol the border from California to Texas.

SEIU's International Secretary-Treasurer Eliseo Medina attended the president's address in El Paso, Texas and made the following statement:

"President Obama is to be commended for leading a forthright discussion on one of the more vexing issues facing our nation: immigration reform. By keeping attention on the issue and uniting divergent interests from across the political spectrum, the president is challenging the nation to set aside divisive politics and find real solutions.

"Congress needs to listen. For years, Republicans have blocked congressional debate on comprehensive immigration reform with the false argument - proven wrong many times over - that securing the border was a pre-requisite for comprehensive immigration reform. Their repeated stalling tactic is calling for securing the border before engaging in a debate on other reforms that would resolve the status of undocumented workers and their families already here and also level the playing field for all workers.

"Today, the president made a forceful case for moving forward on comprehensive solutions. There is no question that reforming the system would treat all employers fairly and increase the wage scale for all workers in the U.S. It would eliminate a massive underground "cash" economy that takes advantage of cheap labor and depresses wages and working conditions for everyone. Consequently business and labor leaders across the country and across the political spectrum have stood up against short-sighted state legislation and demanded a federal solution.

"Along the border, the "security first" markers that immigration opponents demanded during the last congressional debate in 2007 have been achieved. Billions of dollars have been spent on personnel, equipment, and the latest in surveillance technology.But there is a limit to what enforcement alone can accomplish without real reform no matter how much money we throw at the problem.

"However, it's time to acknowledge what voters have been telling us: securing the border before other reforms are made is unrealistic because "total control" is impossible. This approach is nothing more than a costly band-aid, or stop-gap measure.  Instead of applying more "band-aids" through costly, short-term fixes, we need solid solutions to improve our economic and national security.

 "President Obama is showing great political courage in forcing a national debate on this important issue. Labor and business are at the table; mayors, law enforcement and faith leaders are there too.

 "The question remains: When are the Republicans going to quit stalling and start finding solutions that the public is demanding?  We are ready to work on it for the sake of our economic and national security and for the American people."

Related links:

From People's World

Lawmakers back plan to end deportations of children, families:

Meet SEIU's Eliseo Medina:

Survey shows continued support for immigration reform


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  • The problem with President Obama's approach so far is that he has made concessions to the Republicans on immigration reform without getting anything in return, not even a promise. So he has implemented policies that have actually worsened the situation for undocumented immigrants and their families: Secure Communities, 287 g, E-Verify, more border and internal policing, and crackdowns on employers which do not help the immigrant workers who lose their jobs as a result one bit. As the Republicans in Congress have not reciprocated(because they are being given everything on a silver platter, so why should they?) and are not going to, the result is a harsh "enforcement only" policy that has terrorized the 11 million undocumented immigrants (of whom about 8 million are in the labor force) and their millions of legal resident and US citizen spouses, children and other relatives, as well as disrupting communities.
    The Congressional Hispanic Caucus has asked President Obama to change this policy and to back off on these enforcement efforts, which are getting us not a milimeter closer to "comprehensive immigration reform". There was nothing in the El Paso speech to indicate he is listening to this wise advice. He raised the issue of comprehensive reform again, but neither he nor anybody else has a plan to accomplish this until after the 2012 presidential elections. What happens in the meantime? What happens if the Democrats do not do well in 2012?
    As to the characterization of Obama as conservative or liberal, I would call him a Chicago-school Democrat, who relates better to making deals with potential adversaries rather than confronting them. Like most politicians of both major parties, he does not like to be pushed "from below" by organized constituencies; he likes to have a free hand. But this is not the only way to be a practical politician and get things done. I well remember another African-American politician from Chicago, the late Mayor Harold Washington. Washington was extremely practical and successful, not by making deals in smoke-filled rooms only (he could do that if he thought it best), but also by calling directly on the people to mobilize themselves behind his policies.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 05/11/2011 7:50pm (7 years ago)

  • This is healthy debate.
    Our president is a complex person, as we all are.
    Republicans for Obama, have no problem identifying him as conservative in four out of twelve categories, ranging from abortion to family values, in a 2008 measure and article.
    Let it be said that sister Terrie's article does something to lend itself to the radical, revolutionary and progressive by referencing PW articles-but why not make this content part of the article? This is needed.
    Do Republicans see people and events with a more discerning eye, than we, the communists? NO.
    Just for instance, let's see what staff writer Joe Garofoli said today in the San Francisco Chronicle about the SAME speech made Obama.
    First, in the article's headline Garofoli writes,"speech offers no new proposals". Brother staffer writes on that the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials notes that Latinos are smart,Obama needs their votes, and they want action, not necessarily speeches.
    Second, Garofoli points up how the president is re-framing the immigration debate"as being about legalization". This re framing may be better than seeing the question as purely a "security" issue,(as extreme conservatives do) but not necessarily as the human,union and labor rights issues they are, along with the immigration legality issue of the 14th amendment, touched on by PW authors like David Bacon and Emile Schepers which would more likely be the framing of the communists.
    Crucially, working class immigration proponents want action, and we want it now. We want this action to help the working people, now. We want healthy debate that helps this action, for this leads to lasting peace, which respects real law and order.

    Posted by peaceapplause, 05/11/2011 12:43pm (7 years ago)

  • I couldn't disagree more with peaceapplause on his assertion. The president is a pragmatic liberal, who, without a filibuster proof majority, believes in get work done rather than taking stands on principle that get nothing done. We don't always agree with him and many of his positions we outright oppose, but claims that he is a conservative or a Republican are too farfetched to be accepted.

    Posted by Joel Wendland, 05/11/2011 11:30am (7 years ago)

  • President Obama is a conservative. If you don't believe it, read Obama and listen to him-ask him.
    This does not mean he is a bad man.
    But it does mean that he may indeed ignore or denigrate progressive and radical solutions, etched in the rubric of our most sacred, revolutionary documents, that millions and millions of citizens of the world do support and fight for.
    This is how reasonable people would look at his immigration policy and policy proposals.
    This article is not radical,let alone revolutionary.
    This does not make this a bad article.
    But does it speak for the maybe millions victims of I C E policy, threaten unionists and children of unionists and workers throughout our 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment protected land?
    Does it protect the peace of immigrants, workers and even law enforcement and elected officials on both sides of the Mexican-American border?
    The interests of workers are one and equal on both sides of the border.
    Let us pursue a policy which is in agreement with our U.S. Constitution and international law,human rights and U.N. law. Current policies of Immigration and Custom Enforcement run counter to these dictates and the interests of working people on both sides of the border, let's stop turning our heads, closing our eyes.
    Why decry the opportunism of the right, and point to the very approach that they support(border security) to bolster a free and objective debate?
    Let us fight for real peace and boldness at our borders(Mexican and American).

    Posted by peaceapplause, 05/11/2011 10:46am (7 years ago)

  • Immigration and travel are not one country issues. We cannot expect to dictate conditions to citizens and governments of other nations. First item on the agenda is to choose a venue for discussion. Next we need ground rules for comments.aidisc

    Posted by Richard A. Beldin, 05/10/2011 6:02pm (7 years ago)

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