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Letter No. 54: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 11/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Back in 2007, you had this brave, bold idea of health care reform but then settled for what has now ...
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

Back in 2007, you had this brave, bold idea of health care reform but then settled for what has now become the nightmare of the Affordable Care Act rollout. Now it seems you are willing to back off again—this time with comprehensive immigration reform, accepting whatever the Republicans feel like delivering!

Your statement this week at a Wall Street Journal forum, “If they want to chop that thing up in five pieces, as long as all five pieces get done, I don’t care what it looks like,” is simply disconcerting. Sure, we all want immigration reform to pass the House once and for all, but for you to say you “don’t care” what the pieces that make it through look like shows poor leadership and a willingness to cave under pressure—much like you did with the original health care vision.

What you should be saying is if Republicans in the House want to play roulette with their political future and lose the minority vote forever, then let them delay immigration reform. What you should be saying is that while you are willing to compromise and accept immigration reform that comes in five or more bills, at the end of the day, those should not all be about border security or increasing tech, science or farm visas.

What you should say is that if an analysis completed by the Bipartisan Policy Center with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC shows that over the course of two decades, the Senate’s immigration bill (S.744) would increase economic growth by 4.8 percent, lower the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion, increase demand for housing, increase the size of the labor force, offset the aging of the native-born workforce and raise wages over the long-term, then you really don’t know what the holdup is.

What you should have said is that any bill that makes it to your desk must include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million-plus undocumented immigrants in this country. Instead, you caved and said you “don’t care what it looks like.”

How can you say that to Carmen Lima, 13, whose dad has been deported under your draconian immigration policy that sees 1,100 deported daily? How can you say that to those thousands of immigrants hoping against hope for reform that is much more than border security? How can you say that to the many on the right and in corporations who still lobby on for immigration reform despite John Boehner’s nail-in-the-coffin comment?

The reality, Mr. President, is that you are the leader of this great nation. You need to stand your ground and stand up for what you believe in. Compromise yes, but make sure, as Sun Tzu says, to impose your will on the enemy, and do not allow the enemy’s will to be imposed on you.

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

The writer is CMO of Hard Beat Communications, which owns the brands NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Invest Caribbean Now.