Today the White House held yet another one of it’s meetings on immigration, where lots of press attention is garnered but little movement forward actually happens. According to a background press release, at the meeting were “Administration Officials and Stakeholders” including DHS Secretary Napolitano, Cecilia Munoz, Deputy Assistant to the President & Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, the mayors of NYC & San Antonio, law enforcement officials like the heads of the NYC and Philly police departments, business leaders such as the COO of Facebook, and organizational leaders such as John Podesta, CEO, Center for American Progress, Al Sharpton of the the National Action Network, and Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO.
It has been confirmed by VivirLatino that there were Latino and immigration advocates at the meeting whose names were not on the official press list, perhaps on purpose to avoid the White House being criticized in the media for their inactions and actions that have led to increased enforcement and deportations. Those people were Eliseo Medina of SEIU, Janet Murguia of the NCLR, Ali Noorani of RI4A, Frank Sharry of America’s Voice, and Karen Narasaki of the Asian American Justice Center.
Pablo Alvarado, Director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network said of the meeting :
“While we appreciate the President’s effort to keep immigration reform on the national agenda, his actions belie his intent. We’re greatly disappointed that the meeting didn’t include more voices of immigrants at the table, including representatives of directly affected communities especially the people in the state of Arizona and Georgia where there is a modern day human rights crisis. If the President genuinely wanted to fix the broken immigration system, he would respond to the growing chorus of voices calling for the suspension of the secure communities program and move to legalize instead of further criminalize our immigrant communities.”
The purpose of the meeting itself remains unclear. According the the preliminary release it seemed like an affirmation of Obama’s so-called commitment to “fixing the broken immigration system”. At the top of that commitment checklist continues to be enforcement and deportation and continuously denying access to executive options.
From the White House release :
The President has outlined a vision for fixing the broken immigration system through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability:
Responsibility from the federal government to secure our borders: Today, our borders are more secure than at any time in the past several decades. However, the Administration continues to refine and strengthen its strategy. Enforcement resources should be increased where appropriate and focused on stopping potential terrorists and others who would do our nation harm.
Hmm like law student and a leader in the DREAMer movement, Prerna Lal?
I requested an official attendee list from the White House Media Office and was told to await the official Readout. The Readout, released minutes ago, says nothing that our communities have not heard already including excuses from Obama.
From the Readout:
The President reiterated his deep disappointment that Congressional action on immigration reform has stalled and that the DREAM Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate after passing with a bipartisan majority in the U.S. House in December. The President listened to stakeholders describe a variety of problems that result from the broken system, including: educating the best and brightest but then shipping that talent overseas; concerns over the ability of businesses to reliably hire and retain a legal workforce; and the need to level the playing field for American workers by ending the underground labor market. In addition, local law enforcement officers expressed concern that without reform, enforcing federal immigration laws is a distraction from their important public safety and crime fighting mandates to keep their local communities safe, and faith leaders highlighted the damage to families and communities when families are separated, including parents who are taken away from their U.S. Citizen children.
The President reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform that both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system, and pointed out that perpetuating a broken immigration system is not an option if America is to win the future.
The President made it clear that while his Administration continues to improve our legal immigration system, secure our borders, and enhance our immigration enforcement so that it is more effectively and sensibly focusing on criminals, the only way to fix what’s broken about our immigration system is through legislative action in Congress. The President noted that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months, but also noted that he cannot be successful if he is leading the debate alone. The President urged meeting participants to take a public and active role to lead a constructive and civil debate on the need to fix the broken immigration system. He stressed that in order to successfully tackle this issue they must bring the debate to communities around the country and involve many sectors of American society in insisting that Congress act to create a system that meets our nation’s needs for the 21st century and that upholds America’s history as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants. The President further committed that his Cabinet and White House team will follow up with each participant to maximize the outcome of this meeting in order to elevate the immigration debate.
So the President essentially is again telling advocates, activists and community members to not give up and keep trying while we continue to watch our families and neighborhoods being torn apart.