Open Letter No. 82: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 7/3/2014, 11:53 a.m.
In the midst of recovering from complicated surgery, I have had to face the sad reality that comprehensive immigration reform ...
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

In the midst of recovering from complicated surgery, I have had to face the sad reality that comprehensive immigration reform is dead in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives for another year. Now, in the season of World Cup fever, where immigrants have dominated and helped most of the major teams, including the U.S., the ball is really in your corner. Will you score a goal or will you get the red card?

Rep. Luis Gutierrez of your home state of Illinois on June 25 gave a red card to House Republicans. “You’re done. Leave the field. Too many flagrant offenses and unfair attacks and too little action while you run out the clock. You are out. Hit the showers. I’m giving you the red card,” Gutierrez told House Republicans on Wednesday.

He added, “It is now up to the president to act.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York has made the exact same argument, but will you act as the president on behalf of the millions who desperately need and have been begging for your help for the past five years?

An overwhelming 71 percent of Americans support immigration reform that secures our borders, boosts our economy and creates a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already contributing to our communities. You cannot stall any longer, regardless of the new crisis at the border.

The relief process is now focused solely on you. Will you take action to stop non-criminal deportations or will you fall for the tea party/GOP bait again and continue to rapidly deport good immigrants and tear apart families in the name of this new crisis at the border? Will you finally allow Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to release his review of the options available to you that will allow executive authority to try to address some of the problems that have been created by our broken immigration system?

And will you accept Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s plan to allow a small number of young immigrants who grew up in the United States without legal status to enlist in the military? Or will you continue to be the “deporter-in-chief” and use more of the country’s tax dollars to deal with non-criminals?

After all, you have already asked that the Homeland Security Department be granted the authority to apply “fast track” procedures to the screening and deportation of all unaccompanied children traveling without their parents, and you plan to now ask Congress for some $2 billion to deal with them, according to The New York Times.

Again, you are playing right into the Republicans’ hands with this. Why is this issue only being raised now, especially because more than 52,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Central America, have been apprehended entering the U.S. illegally since October last year?

The reality is, Mr. President, the GOP House leaders continue to play you, and you continue to be played instead of showing real leadership on behalf of your base. Time to really show true leadership!

Will you too be given the red card or you will become a real winner by scoring a goal for the immigrants living in this country for many years who are desperate for relief?


Felicia Persaud

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