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Letter No. 65 to President Obama: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 2/13/2014, 11:08 a.m.
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

If there was a title of “hypocrite-in-chief,” then it definitely would go to House Speaker John Boehner.

In the aftermath of the 2012 general elections, Boehner has backtracked so many times on immigration reform that my head is spinning like a top. One minute he’s for it, the next he’s not. The latest “love it, hate it” dance lyrics now involve blaming you. What else is new, you say?

The latest claim by Boehner is that immigration reform cannot move forward in the House because many of his party members feel they can’t trust you. This is simply laughable, if it were not so grim. The fact is that the only person who cannot be trusted is Boehner, and he’s proven that again by promising in good faith to move forward on immigration reform this year only to now backtrack and claim they will not.

Why? Because he claims his so-called caucus insists that after your State of the Union promise to issue executive orders when Congress doesn’t act is simply something they cannot tolerate and, he added, they cannot trust your administration to enforce their laws.

Really? After the deportation report you’ve amassed?

Still, I think Boehner is subtly pushing you to make a move because he’s too chicken to do so out of fear of the big, bad tea party members who would simply take the thing that he prizes most away—the title of speaker of the House. And so I challenge you to prove them right and use your executive power to make some bold moves on immigration reform. It’s time to show who is the leader of the free world.

Now everyone agrees that you cannot by executive power alone make comprehensive immigration reform changes, but we absolutely know you can make some changes, including stopping deportation that breaks up families and moving to stop applying the full 10-year bar of admission to those who enter the country illegally. This would help many people currently among the 11.5 million to move onto a path to legal status.

Sixty-five percent of Americans agree that the current immigration system is either completely or mostly broken, and according to a recent poll, 81 percent of Americans support a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who meet specific qualifications. This shows you have most of America’s support, even 72 percent of Boehner’s constituents in Ohio.

As Tania Unzueta, a strategist with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, summed it up recently, to not use your executive authority is not just not strategic; it is cruel.

Mr. President, I second that motion. There are definitely options where you can exercise “Now Power.” Use them and quit pandering to Republicans, which makes them believe they are still in control of the country.

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

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