President Obama is trapped. He must choose between continuing to push Congress to put forward a bill on immigration reform and risk that opponents will win the political pulse, or abandoning the issue, sending a message of betrayal and weakness to 75% of Hispanic voters who trusted his immigration promises.
The president of change and hope can become, in the eyes of the emerging Hispanic voter, a run-of-the-mill politician unable to keep his promises.
One can argue that the U.S. Hispanic voter lacks the political machinary and the economic leadership to support certain agendas.
In our democracy, agendas have to be fueled by economic power and promoted by people —politicians, businessmen, activists— able to entice respect or fear.
Hispanics have an enormous purchasing power, they are major consumers of goods and services, but they lack an organization able to generate change in political and social issues: immigration, political representation, education gap, balanced presence in media and corporate boards…
It can be argued that the Republican Party is a victim of its own “racial anxieties,” that is to say, they cannot see the woods for the trees.
The GOP is trying to hit the immigration piñata by sending to Congress a bunch of politicians whose strategy is to look the other way while blindfolded.
But the rhetoric on border security and citizenship cannot hide the GOP’s hostility and lack of vision towards immigration.
Remember the GOP “Immigration Principles”?
Implement a fully functioning entry-exit program.
Visa and green card allocations must reflect the need of employers.
Temporary worker program shuld address the economic needs of the country.
Pathway to citizenship under certain conditions.
Remember what happened after the GOP announcement? Nada.
The issue of immigration has become the thermometer that measures the ethical and political temperature of the two major parties in the country. And it does not provide a pretty picture.
Why haven’t the Democrats shown more pragmatism on the immigration issue —à la Ted Kennedy— instead of stubbornly pushing a bill which included the words “citizenship” and “immigration “ in the same sentence? Were they aware that the citizenship issue would cause Republicans to revolt into a foretold political stalemate? Who is the winner when such a crisis occurs?
Currently, Obama is the President of “no se puede” for Hispanics, Democrats are the politicians who best play the blaming game, and Republicans seem to have no soul while skating on thin ice.
At the end, the political process suffers, politicians’ credibility withers, and Hispanics remain the neglected voter-in-waiting who longs for better days.
AVENDAÑO IS EDITOR OF EL TIEMPO LATINO