It is Time for Obama to Act

On Tuesday May 27th, 2014, the White House asked Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to delay the review of the administration’s draconian deportation policy. According to Jeh Johnson, the White House asked to delay the report in order to “court” the Republicans. This is simply inexcusably wrong.

It is estimated that about 1,100 people are being torn from their loved ones every day. While families are separated every day, this country’s so-called leaders are pointing fingers at each other and refusing to accept their responsibility to serve the people. The Republican Party, henchmen for the 1 percent, blames President Obama because they can’t “trust” him. Spineless Democrats are blaming Republicans for not passing the comprehensive immigration reform, a bill designed to minimize 11.5 million people’s pathway to citizenship while benefiting the prison and military industrial complexes. The Obama administration was able to recuse itself from its draconian deportation policy by blaming Congress, but the administration cannot hide anymore.

After the national day of action on April 5th, it became clear that the record-breaking level of deportations cannot be ignored anymore. Under President Obama’s leadership, more than 2 million people have been deported. Among that 2 million people who were deported, 250,000 were of Asian heritage. This unfathomable number simply exceeds any previous administration’s deportation record. As Judge Learned Hand said in 1920’s

“Deportation is… exile, a dreadful punishment, abandoned by the common consent of all civilized peoples…that our reasonable efforts to rid ourselves be attended by such a cruel and barbarous result would be a national reproach.”(1)

Pain and suffering caused by Obama’s draconian policy cannot be described in words. President Obama rightly earned his title “Deporter in Chief.”

Additionally, those groups that asked the review be delayed do represent neither our community nor our voice. They are pathetic pawns used by the White House to buy some time. Although they justified their cowardly act as increasing the chance Congress pass the immigration bill, in the end, they are futile groups subordinated to power. The current Congress is simply too paralyzed to perform its basic function. It is laughable to rely on a dysfunctional institution to address this urgent matter.

Right now, at this moment, President Obama can ameliorate the lives of millions of undocumented immigrants’ pain with a stroke of a pen. And yet, he is again positioning himself as a “neutral” observer asking Congress to act. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in a period of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Obama’s refusal to issue administrative relief reveals his moral bankruptcy. It is time for President Obama to act. If he is not willing to act, immigrant rights organizers and activists need to make him act.