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Thank you for listening, Mr. President

Por Mariel Fiori
December 2014
Today I write with optimism. It is a good end of the year to know that some five million people will be able to emerge from the shadows and no longer have to fear seeing their families separated. It is a good end of the year to know that – thanks to the efforts of thousands of activist organizations all across the country that took the streets and voluntarily gave themselves up to arrest for civil disobedience in order to be heard, who protested time after time in Washington, D.C., who shared testimonies with whoever would lend them an ear, who signed thousands of petitions and flooded social networks in the name of a cause – thanks to all of them, our president Barack Obama finally heard the clamor of the immigrants and their allies, and took the reins on the 20th of November, using his executive power in the case of immigration. This executive power has many parts, some more positive than others, but the one that makes us all happy is that those who qualify will receive temporary work permits and social security numbers. For more details, see here:

In his speech explaining the new system, the president was quite clear: “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican President and every single Democratic President for the past half century. And to those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer: Pass a bill.” As you all know, it has been a year and a half since the senate passed an immigration law that would give millions of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship (here it is important to note that the executive action of the President is a temporary solution without a path to citizenship). However, it never reached the House floor of the Congress for a vote. For those who do not remember, the Speaker of the House, Republican representative John Boehner, vetoed it because it was known that were the bill to go into vote before the Congress, it would probably have been passed and became law. Talk about petty politics.

It is because of this, that the optimism that I have (along with many people inside and out of the country) feels so real. About the first thing I thought of the President´s announcement (for which we are thanking him for, of course) is why now? What for? Who will benefit politically? The people whom I asked these same questions told me that the President has had this power in his hands for more than six years, but that he was waiting for the Congress to act (which didn’t happen). Others said that it was just politics, mere strategy. And that’s probably where the answer lies. Remember what happened to Romney after he said that the way to take care of undocumented immigrants was to make their lives so hard they would deport themselves? Well, he lost the Hispanic vote and he lost the election.

More and more analysts are of the opinion that, without the Hispanic vote, no politician will end up anywhere desirable. And even though undocumented immigrants obviously don’t vote, their friends, families, and allies very much do. As Mexican activist Elvira Arellano said in an interview with ¿Que cocinare hoy? recently: “I cannot vote, but I can help others who can, to register and vote for those of us who can’t.”
Luckily, this New Year’s comes loaded with optimism. Optimism because we know that even though the fight for real, comprehensive immigration reform (not just temporary fixes) goes on, that our voices and our votes are being heard. Yes, we can!

Mariel Fiori
Managing Editor

La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson

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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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