Today, Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office on his first full day in the White House as President of the United States and met with economic advisors to start “making early progress on the change he promised.” In the spirit of both economic recovery and social change, immigration should be addressed in President Obama’s early conversations. Latinos are demanding it ought to, experts and advocates are confident it will.
Gebe Martinez of the Politico describes Latinos as “puffed with pride after casting 10 million votes in November that were vital to President Barack Obama’s election…” and “Hispanics are feeling empowered to make great demands on the new president.” The New York Times reports that Latino voters were roughly equivalent to Mr. Obama’s margin of victory in the popular vote and in key swing states such as Nevada, Colorado and New Mexico, which flipped from red to blue. That’s a big reason why, on Monday, a group of Latino advocates and lawmakers representing the interests of the Latino community met on Capitol Hill to find out what it is that they should ask for first from the new administration–immigration reform topped the Latino community’s wish list.
In addition, The United Farm Workers’ California political director, Merlyn Calderon, told the Monterey County Herald that the historical shift in leadership has grabbed the attention of many Latino immigrants who work the farms of Monterey County, adding, “Obama really symbolizes a new era for us in terms of passing a real comprehensive immigration reform.”
As with the rest of the country and the new President, the economy is a main concern for Latinos, immigrants, and immigration advocates who also recognize it must be a top legislative priority. However, contrary to data such as Pew’s most recent study which lumps immigration in a category of its own, the immigration issue is firmly linked with the economic concerns of Latinos and immigrants who live and work at the intersection where the two crises collide. Other issues, like health care and education, are also inextricably linked to immigration in the hearts and minds of Latinos-both native and foreign-born. As Jesicca Acee stated in a recent blog post on Imagine 2050,
President Obama must prioritize bringing immigrant workers out of the underground economy for the sake of the country’s economic growth. If not, we’ll never rescue America and keep throwing good money down the drain.
Many remain optimistic that as Obama addresses the economy and other policy issues, he will embrace immigration reform as a key measure to ensuring the overall success of his other policy endeavors and fulfilling his promise of progress and change. As a signal of hope, Barack Obama’s agenda regarding issues such as immigration was launched on the White House website this afternoon, citing a “commitment to promote a law that would legalize millions of undocumented immigrants,” and “fix the broken immigration system” this year.”
Photo by Pete Souza/The White House.