Even though I have been a U.S. Citizen for decades, I waited with anticipation the President's speech on immigration reform. I was looking for a genuine desire to solve one of the most important problems facing our nation. While the President emphasized the fact that his principles for immigration reform mirror those of the bipartisan Senate working group, I was struck by a few comments he made and some that were left out.
A huge concern I have is that he was silent on a guest worker program (...) If in fact he is looking for a comprehensive reform, that is an item that must be included
- Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer
First of all, his demand that Congress act expeditiously on this policy issue only underscores his own failure to address the issue for almost five years. I would rather have Congress achieve the right reform, than reach a quick but careless solution. Some of his comments, far from getting Congress to come along, sounded more like a scolding. Furthermore, his bravado was more a display of pandering to the faithful than extending a hand to those who could oppose him.
What was he thinking? It led me to question whether he truly wants reform, or just wants to score political points. I have been involved in the political process long enough to recognize how difficult the task is. One has to walk ever so gingerly to reach the desired outcome because even little things could blow up a carefully drawn compromise.
His comment that unless Congress deals with it quickly, or else he will send in a bill and demand that they vote on it, was more upmanship than leadership. He knows full well that he has no power to send a bill to Congress and he has no power to schedule a vote; that power belongs to the speaker of the house. Again, it just was a good sound bite but nothing else.
A huge concern I have is that he was silent on a guest worker program and nothing in his documents talks about the need to have such a program in place. If in fact he is looking for a comprehensive reform, that is an item that must be included.
On the other hand we have Republican congressman Lou Barletta, who obviously did not read a sensitivity memo widely distributed last week that gave pointers to Republican congressmen when talking about immigration reform. Sadly, his comments only showed his lack of understanding of the Hispanic community and why Republicans have failed to garner more of their votes.
I was dismayed by the ignorance he showed stating that most undocumented immigrants are uneducated, government-dependent individuals who would not support the party. Let me be clear: undocumented immigrants don’t vote – but their children, grandchildren and relatives DO and they are U.S. citizens who are doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women! That he is unable to understand this basic fact only shows how far we have to go to educate the highly educated congressman.
According to the U.S. Census there are 50 million people of Hispanic descent living in the U.S.; only 11 million are undocumented. And while a significant number are still under the age of 18, the number of Hispanic voters continues to grow on a yearly basis. This is just simple math, Congressman Barletta.
Needless to say, achieving immigration reform is going to be very difficult. We have challenges from the left and the right, from the President who is beholden to the unions to the Congress – and yet we have eight senators, Democrats and Republicans, who are risking tremendous political capital to achieve real reform.
While I may be disappointed by some comments from the liberals and conservatives, I am not discouraged. I believe wholeheartedly that in spite of all this rhetoric, a compromise will be reached and the greatest country in the world will be better by it.
Rosario Marin served as the 41st U.S. Treasurer under President George W. Bush. She is the author of "Leading Between Two Worlds Lessons" from the first Mexican-born Treasurer of the United States.