Feature

Finally some action on immigration

After years of setbacks, U.S. immigration reform “may finally be viable.”

After years of setbacks, U.S. immigration reform “may finally be viable,” said José Carreño Figueras in Excélsior (Mexico). Re-elected with 71 percent of the Hispanic vote, President Obama knows he owes Latinos. And now that he doesn’t have to campaign again, he can finally deliver on his unfulfilled promise to create a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented residents in the U.S., most of them Mexican or otherwise Hispanic. This task is easier than ever now that even the Republicans concede that they must do something to placate the Latino voting bloc. A recent survey found that 31 percent of Latinos in the U.S. would be open to voting Republican if the party would just change its hard-line stance on immigration issues. 

For Obama, though, this decision doesn’t seem purely political, said Clarín (Argentina) in an editorial. He no longer needs Latino votes, yet at his second inauguration, he “surrounded himself with Hispanic celebrities.” The actress Eva Longoria, the singer José Feliciano, and the Peruvian tenor Juan Diego Flórez were at Obama’s swearing-in. The Rev. Luis León, who is of Cuban origin, gave the final benediction, “sprinkled with a few words in Spanish.” The poet who gave the inaugural poem, Ricardo Blanco, was also Cuban. Perhaps most gratifying of all, the first Latina Supreme Court justice, Sonia Sotomayor, was chosen to administer the oath of office to the vice president. Obama has “made it clear that he is listening to Latinos and taking them into consideration. He really is.”

I wish I could be so optimistic, said Jorge Durand in La Jornada (Mexico). But “after so many lost illusions and so much aggression against migrants living illegally in the U.S.,” I will hold my applause until an immigration bill actually passes. Obama may declare it a priority right now, in the heady first days of his second term. But he is about to face two nasty fights with his Congress—over fiscal issues and over gun control. He could well decide not to invest precious political capital on immigration reform and cave in to whatever watered-down deal the Republicans come up with. 

It’s up to Mexican-Americans to ensure that that doesn’t happen, said El Universal (Mexico). They voted for Obama even though, in his first term, he not only failed to deliver the immigration reform he promised, but actually “set a new record for deportations.” Now they must hold his feet to the fire, because this moment could slip away before we know it. The attack on 9/11 caused the U.S. to tighten its borders, and “another unexpected event could occur” that would cause Americans to rethink any form of amnesty for illegal immigrants. “It’s time for Hispanic civic organizations—and Hispanics in general—to come out of the shadows.”

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