Thursday, March 19, 2009

News Articles: Obama and the Immigration Issue +

Obama and the immigration question

Los Angeles, CA -- Immigrant rights advocates are out in force at the Miguel Contreras Learning Center here, asking President Obama to keep immigration reform in mind -- and to make good on his campaign promises on the volatile issue -- as he prepares to take questions on his second town hall this afternoon.

Nativo Lopez, the national president of MAPA, the Mexican-American Political Association, says his group is here "to greet the president..and remind him of an issue that needs to be on the front burner.''

Obama is "a man of his word,''said Lopez, standing out in front of the center, where demonstrators waved signs that said "Economic Recovery Must Include Immigration Reform'' and "Mr. President, You can count on us.''

Obama addressed immigration reform at his town hall meeting in Orange County on Wednesday, but the issue is seen very differently in the OC, where Republican activists are strong.

Here's the question that Lopez and other immigration reform activists like Enrique Morones, who heads the Border Angels group, will be watching for: will Obama take a different tone in Los Angeles, or indicate when specifically immigration reform will be offered?

Check out the comments and questions of both Lopez, and then Morones, as they waited for Obama today: 

Link to Video :

or Goto Websource:

And here's what Obama specifically had to say Wednesday on the issue in Costa Mesa:

As many of you know, during the campaign I was asked repeatedly about this, and I reiterated my belief that we have to have comprehensive immigration reform.

Now, I know this is an emotional issue, I know it's a controversial issue, I know that the people get real riled up politically about this, but -- but ultimately, here's what I believe: We are a nation of immigrants, number one.

Number two, we do have to have control of our borders. Number three, that people who have been here for a long time and put down roots here have to have some mechanism over time to get out of the shadows, because if they stay in the shadows, in the underground economy, then they are oftentimes pitted against American workers.

Since they can't join a union, they can't complain about minimum wages, et cetera, they end up being abused, and that depresses the wages of everybody, all Americans.

So I don't think that we can do this piecemeal. I think what we have to do is to come together and say, we're going to strengthen our borders -- and I'm going to be going to Mexico, I'm going to be working with President Calderón in Mexico to figure out how do we get control over the border that's become more violent because of the drug trade. We have to combine that with cracking down on employers who are exploiting undocumented workers.

We have to make sure that there's a verification system to find out whether somebody is legally able to work here or not. But we have to make sure that that verification system does not discriminate just because you've got a Hispanic last name or your last name is Obama.

You've got to..say to the undocumented workers, you have to say, look, you've broken the law; you didn't come here the way you were supposed to. So this is not going to be a free ride. It's not going to be some instant amnesty.

What's going to happen is you are going to pay a significant fine. You are going to learn English. You are going to -- you are going to go to the back of the line so that you don't get ahead of somebody who was in Mexico City applying legally.

But after you've done these things over a certain period of time you can earn your citizenship, so that it's not -- it's not something that is guaranteed or automatic. You've got to earn it. But over time you give people an opportunity.

Now, it only works though if you do all the pieces. I think the American people, they appreciate and believe in immigration. But they can't have a situation where you just have half a million people pouring over the border without any kind of mechanism to control it. So we've got to deal with that at the same time as we deal in a humane fashion with folks who are putting down roots here, have become our neighbors, have become our friends, they may have children who are U.S. citizens.That's the kind of comprehensive approach that we have to take.

Posted By: Carla Marinucci (Email) | March 19 2009 at 11:35 AM

Listed Under: Carla Marinucci

Obama puts immigration reform on docket

Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk will be the nation's top trade official. Former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk will be the nation's top trade official.
March 19, 2009

On his very full plate, immigration was one issue that President Obama had yet to take on - until yesterday, when he discussed it with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

At a town hall meeting in southern California yesterday, Obama renewed his support for comprehensive reform, including a possible path to citizenship for law-abiding people who entered the country illegally, along the lines of the bill that stalled in Congress in 2007.

According to the White House account of yesterday's one-hour closed session, it was "a robust and strategic meeting" in which Obama announced he will go to Mexico next month to meet President Calderón and discuss, among other issues, effective, comprehensive immigration reform.

After the meeting, Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, chairman of the Hispanic caucus's immigration task force, and advocacy groups said they were hopeful that Obama would address immigration reform this year.

"Although it is very early in his administration, he understands that for the immigrant community it's the 11th hour, and there is no time to waste," Gutierrez said in a statement.

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, added, "While we agree that our priority should be fixing the nation's economy, we also believe that we can initiate an immigration reform that will help us achieve long-term economic growth.".....


Protesters press Obama on immigration [UPDATED]

10:53 AM | March 19, 2009

As ticket-holders waited patiently in line to gain entry to the gymnasium at Miguel Contreras Learning Center near downtown L.A. this morning, two groups protested for legalization of undocumented immigrants.

Kevin Prada, 12, attended a protest by the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and spoke about his life since his father was deported in 2007.

"I am an American citizen, but right now I don't feel like one. I feel like I am an alien from a different world," he said.

Prada's father immigrated from Peru in the 1990s and was denied political asylum. Prada read from a letter he wrote to Obama.

"Please, I write to you, wishing for what you have promised, change," he said.

Vicky Marquez said she has not seen her children, who live in El Salvador, in 13 years.

"I haven't hugged them, I haven't kissed them, it's not right," said Marquez, a member of the Service Employees International Union. "I'm here to tell the president not to forget about us. We're anxiously waiting for immigration reform."

Two groups chanted at two street corners, playing mariachi music and waving signs that read, "Obama, count on us," and "Legalizacion! Ahora!" Nearby residents watched the commotion from their fire escapes, and rush-hour commuters honked in support.

Updated, 11:07 a.m.: A third protest group -- African Americans holding signs that read "Reparations now" and "Black people need to work, too" -- has claimed a street corner near Miguel Contreras Learning Center.

Vendors are selling T-shirts and buttons, and one enterprising young woman is advertising "Presidential concessions" -- water for $1 a bottle.

-- Seema Mehta

Comment: Presidente Obama and his core team need to work with proven and trusted leaders of the immigrant rights movement. A comprehensive humane immigration reform legislation cannot be done in sterile isolation without the critical input and logical feedback from those who work closely and daily on these kinds of critical issues that could unify or further divide the general progressive movement inside the United States.

It all revolves around the central question of a general amnesty for those so-called immigrants who are already here now in the millions, whose ancestry dates back before these lands were ever called America, back to when these lands, specifically the U.S. Southwest, belonged to indigenous native peoples and have been referred to as Aztlan!

Education for Liberation! Join Up!
Peter S. Lopez aka: Peta

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