President Obama today met with stakeholders to discuss a way forward on immigration reform. Getting the President’s time on immigration is great, especially when so many other pressing issues are competing for his attention. We’re glad the long overdue meeting happened. However, critical voices were absent from this meeting, voices that echo the experience of so many immigrants who make up our community and are directly impacted by our broken immigration laws.
Missing from the meeting were people like Victor Reyes, a father of 5 whose wife was deported because she missed an appointment. Also absent was Freddy Gutierrez, who lost his wife and 2 young children to deportation. He only stayed in the U.S. because this is where he has a good job that allows him to provide for his family.
Still, we should take some credit. The President addressed the issue today because we refuse to have our voices silenced. It’s because of activists speaking up and not backing down that immigration remains an issue that President Obama cannot ignore. Our campaign, Change Takes Courage, is effectively raising up the stories of people like Raul and Judy Cardenas, a Denver couple with three children who every day have to live with the possibility that their family will be broken up by immigration authorities, to press the President for relief.
Twenty-seven months into this administration, it is legitimate to ask how many meetings have to be held before the White House finally does what is in its power to stop separating families, to stop deporting promising young people and to stop auditing hard working people out of jobs. Meetings at this juncture are just not enough for families who have been separated from loved ones. It’s time to move beyond talk and into action; it’s time to bring relief to families.
The record pace of deportations has to stop. It simply isn’t true that the President doesn’t have the authority to change the way his administration approaches enforcing immigration law. The President sets the agenda for DHS, and the agency is simply following the course the White House has set every time it deports a mother, a student, a worker.
Hopefully, this meeting will be followed by real change; too many lives are counting on it. Mr. Reyes and Mr. Gutierrez would love to hear how the President will reunite their families. Raul and Judy Cardenas and countless other families fearing separation would love to hear that the President doesn’t want to tear their families apart, and that he will take action to see that it doesn’t happen. Students would love to hear that the President won’t keep higher education and good jobs out of their reach.
Until then, we can’t let up. We have to continue asserting pressure to get the changes we want to see. Sign our petition to President Obama. Tell him deportations of parents of citizen children, students, military veterans and working people is simply not acceptable. Change takes courage. Nobody knows that better than the families struggling to stay together.