Tuesday night, we sat down in front of our televisions in anticipation of President Obama’s final State of the Union Address before the nation. We were anxious to hear what the President would have to say unencumber by the restraints of a reelection campaign.
When President Obama first ran for President, his campaign was one that rode on the crest of change and hope! His campaign slogan at the time was ‘Yes We Can’ – associated with Cesar Chavez’ “Sí Se Puede”- and “Change we can believe in”.
Of the two main promises made in 2008, universal insurance and immigration reform, healthcare reform was the only legislation to come about. Immigration reform was not taken up until well into Obama’s second term and then it was an only a half-hearted attempt. The immigration reform presented was heavily tilted toward border security. That legislation went nowhere and nothing has changed.
In fact, the immigration issue under Obama got worse. During President Obama’s first term in office he became known as the Deporter-in-Chief, expelling a record number of undocumented immigrants at more than 400,000 a year.
Add to this back drop, during this past holiday season, the Obama Administration ordered the raids and deportations of Central American immigrants who came to the United States seeking asylum, fleeing crime and poverty.
With the exception of the Dream Act, an Executive Order that had more to do with his re-election in 2012, the Obama Administration has never been a friend to the immigrant community and, by extension, the Hispanic community in general.
During Obama’s last four years in office, there have been an unprecedented number of police shootings and killings caught on video that showed out of control rogue police officers killing minorities for no other reason than for being Black or Brown, and we have been witness to massive demonstrations across the country seeking accountability and change.
So on Tuesday, we sat and listened and watched President Obama give his State of the Union speech only to be disappointed once again by his administration. He only mentioned immigration in passing and did not directly discuss the state of policing in the United States or acknowledge the protests that have raged across this country. The minority community was reduced to an afterthought in this, Obama’s last major speech of his Presidency.
We can blame Mr. Obama for the lack of action and attention to the Hispanic community, but there is a bigger issue here. In a year, he will be gone but the issue of immigration will still be here, looming as an unfulfilled promise and politicians playing hot potato with this issue.
Accountability has to be laid at the feet of the Democratic Party and at the Hispanic community itself.
As Hispanic voters, we have been indifferent to the political process and have not registered and/or bothered to vote.
If Hispanics voted in the numbers that reflected their population growth and held our elected officials accountable for the actions or in-actions, then and only then would we see meaningful action on immigration reform.
Until then the Hispanic vote will stay as nothing more than a commodity that politicians will pander to until election day, after that they will once again be reduced to an afterthought!