The Democratic National Convention may be over but there is no shortage of it being used as an opportunity to push the so called inclusion of immigration as part of the official party platform. This is especially true as both parties try to attract both the Latino vote and donor dollars. While immigration was barely touched at the Republican National Convention, at the DNC immigration was paraded around often, usually with direct or indirect references to the DREAM Act and DREAMers.
Many immigrant organizations touted and used the DNC speech of DREAMer Benita Veliz, the first undocumented person to speak at a political convention. And while I certainly do not want to take this history from her, her speech was as formulaic as Julian Castro’s. Of course I didn’t expect her speech in any way, shape, or form to challenge the very party that invited her to stand and represent what for many has become the immigrant rights movement, a little more nuance would have been welcome especially knowing that there are DREAMers who do look at the DREAM movement(s) with a more critical lens. Not once did she even call herself undocumented. Was this the peak of co-option or moment of simple and important recognition?
The Democratic 2012 Platform (which you can see here as a PDF) doesn’t contain anything on immigration that we haven’t already heard. It promotes law and order immigration reform as a party priority, emphasizing that the undocumented need to get right with the law and learn English as Obama strengthens the border. The platform repeats the finger pointing towards the GOP for the failure of the DREAM Act that Latinos have been hearing all along, distracting us from record breaking deportations while claiming shifting enforcement priorities which are more hype than reality.
For many the highlight of the DNC was former president Bill Clinton’s speech which went beyond time limits and teleprompters and was heavy on facts in a way most found accessible. But he was no different than many of the other speakers by throwing in a reference to the DREAM Act close to the end of his speech. Like VivirLatino Twitter follower @mexicanguerito tweeted:
he saw a Latina in the crowd and thought “Oh shit, right, throw a lil immigration in there”.
Jumping in on using the DREAMers was Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez, who it must be reminded was against pushing the DREAM Act as a stand alone at first because he thought it endangered a comprehensive immigration reform bill that was supposed to come but never did. It also must be remembered that Gutierrez threatened over and over to pull support from Obama if he didn’t sign an executive order to halt the deportation of DREAMers. The Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is hardly an executive order but that didn’t stop Gutierrez from towing the party line and praising the President for protecting DREAMers.
President Barack Obama’s much touted Deferred Action for Childhood arrivals is not seeing the enthusiastic response many anticipated. According to the Wall Street Journal so far only 40,000 applications have been submitted out of the million plus that are likely eligible. It could be that people are taking a wait and see approach, not certain if this program will amount to anything more than other memos have yielded, nothing. It could be that some are unable or unwilling to want to pay the nearly $500 fee. It will be interesting to see as we get closer to election day if the number of applications rise, as some non-profits are pushing to mass process as many DACA applications as they can by November 4th.
In accepting the Democratic nomination for President, Barack Obama reminded everyone of his great speaking skills but he also reminded people how he can stick in a fast mention of an issue like immigration or allude to the DREAM Act (or DACA) and expect not to be held accountable for the millions of deportations. in his speech Obama out the burden squarely on us, saying we have the power to make change. Let’s hope we make it wisely and not out of fear or rhetoric.