The fate of undocumented immigrants in the United States is undoubtedly of great concern to our nation’s Hispanic community, and under the Obama Administration their future is now even more vulnerable than ever before.
The immense majority of undocumented immigrants are hardworking and honest. They did not come to this country seeking handouts, but rather to build for themselves a better life. Overwhelmingly, they are neither criminals nor do they present a risk to the security of our communities, despite what some naysayers may believe. Quite the opposite, in fact —undocumented immigrants contribute to our economy and society through their hard work and entrepreneurship. They already form an integral part of our society and our country, as immigrants have for centuries.
It is a true injustice that politicians from both parties are allowed to play the political game with the futures and aspirations of immigrants.
Four years ago, President Obama promised over and over again that if he were elected he would advance an immigration reform bill during the first year of his presidency. During a 2008 interview with Univision’s Jorge Ramos, Obama unequivocally proclaimed that “I can guarantee… that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting and that I want to move that forward as quickly as possible,” giving Ramos such hope about possible change that he quickly began calling it "La promesa de Obama" —Obama’s Promise. Nevertheless, despite having a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate during his first two years as President, he opted to do nothing to address this important issue. The President gave us his word and he simply didn’t keep it.
Not only did the President fail to follow through with his promise to our community, but in fact he has implemented the most aggressive deportation policy in the history of the United States. While proclaiming himself a great friend of the Latino community, he is simultaneously deporting more immigrants than any previous president in history, Republican or Democrat.
The President tells us that the number of deportations has increased because he is deporting criminals, but the government’s own statistics show us that this is not true. According to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, part of the Department of Homeland Security, nearly 50 percent of the people who have been deported do not have criminal records. Yet the President continues to attempt to deceive the nation’s Latino community during this election by simply repeating what he said in 2008: if elected, he would reform our broken immigration system.
Some try to tell us that the alternative in this election is worse than Obama’s on immigration, but that simply isn’t true.
Governor Romney has said that if he were elected president, he would work with Republicans and Democrats in Congress to create permanent legislative reform of our immigration system. In the Presidential Forum sponsored by Univision, Romney reaffirmed that he was “not going to be rounding people up and deporting them. We're going to put in place a permanent solution…I will actually do what I promise, I will put in place an immigration reform system that resolves this issue.”
Moreover, contrary to what Obama would like you to think, Romney supports a version of the DREAM ACT and has called for the elimination of quotas for the immediate relatives of permanent residents.
President Obama had the opportunity to do something on immigration and chose not do anything; Governor Romney hasn’t had that opportunity.
Let’s give him, therefore, the chance to meet his promise. If he fails us, like the President failed us, we have the option of voting him out four years from now. But today, let’s give him the chance to fix our broken immigration system.
In the upcoming election we cannot afford to reward someone who has failed us and who is actively persecuting our community, separating hundreds of families throughout the country. We must make sure that our vote matters.
Alfonso Aguilar is the Executive Director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, an initiative of the American Principles Project in Washington, D.C.