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Letter No. 72: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 4/3/2014, 9:47 a.m.
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

As the weeks float away and the letters pile up, the questions in the back of my mind now are, am I simply wasting my time, and will immigration reform ever happen?

The dark cloud loomed larger this week after Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, told MSNBC in no uncertain terms: “The clear reality is comprehensive immigration is dead this year.”

I wanted to argue but had no strength because as much as I hated to admit it, Carmona is right. Not even the bold move by Democrats this past week to try to force movement via a discharge petition on Wednesday, March 26 to force a vote on HR 15—the bill largely adapted from the Senate’s bipartisan bill—can help.

Even Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi had to admit that the petition had almost no chance of success because it would require substantial Republican help to succeed. There are 191 Democrats now in the House of Representatives compared to 233 Republicans. Even if all Democrats support this measure—and we know there is always concern about Blue Dog Democrats—then there is still need for some 43 Republican representatives to sign on to make it a reality.

But what this move has done is forced the GOP House members—especially those with large immigrant districts—to say where they stand on immigration reform. As Eliseo Medina, the SEIU’s point man on immigration, told MSNBC: “It says between now and November to the Republicans, ‘You don’t like the discharge petition, so what do you propose?’”

Still, as this is happening, you hold executive power in your hand and prosecutorial discretion. For advocates, the time to talk with you on ending deportation is over. Even Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York wants you to bypass Congress if nothing happens soon.

Is June too soon to hope for GOP action with the changing demographics staring them in the face? So far, activists say that’s the deadline, then it’s over to pressing you to act boldly.

Will you?

Frank Sharry, executive director of pro-reform advocacy group America’s Voice, said: “Quite frankly, we expect [President Barack] Obama to act boldly to protect most of the undocumented through executive action. Then we’ll go about the business of electing a Congress that will pass reform without all these concessions to Republicans.”

Mr. President, it is time to act boldly on this issue. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, including leaving a legacy that will be unshakable and, most of all, ensuring Democrats a sure win in 2016. The time for talk, fasting, rallying, lobbying and meetings are over. Now is the time for action. We need the promised change we can believe in.

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

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