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Letter No. 69: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 3/16/2014, 3:10 p.m.
Felicia Persaud

Dear Mr. President,

It is unfortunate that, like you did with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you persist in twisting the truth on your deportation record and your powers as president.

Like with the ACA, when you constantly insisted that if an individual had insurance and was happy with their plan, they could keep it—a stretch of the truth that turned into a big lie—you are now insisting that you cannot stop deportations without congressional intervention on immigration reform.

That could not be further from the truth. You can stop it with one stroke of your pen or do as your predecessors have done and lag on deportation.

Of course, being called deporter-in-chief by some of your closest allies, including La Raza’s Janet Murguía and Rep. Luis Gutierrez, must hurt badly. I get that! But it is no reason to tell your base and Latino and immigrant supporters you cannot do anything about it.

Worse, simply talking about immigration reform but then hardly doing much to make it a reality, including deporting some 2 million immigrants and breaking up thousands of families since you took office, does not give you the right to call yourself “champion-in-chief” of comprehensive immigration reform.

Sure, everyone understands Congress has to pass new laws to create a legal pathway for the 11.5 million living in an undocumented capacity in the country, but you do not have to pander to the right wing, as you have done since taking office by rounding up and deporting so many immigrants, both criminal and non-criminal.

To say you are “constrained in what I am able to do” is not really true either. You have done your part in upholding the laws. You have kept your word: putting more guards on the border and building more miles of fence than any other president and even giving drones to the Border Patrol. So to say, “The reason you have deportations taking place is that Congress says you have to enforce these laws. I cannot ignore those laws any more than I can ignore any other laws on the books,” makes you come across as duplicitous.

The same laws were on the books under President Bill Clinton’s terms and under President George W. Bush’s, but they never had the honor of deporting more immigrants out of the U.S. than any president in the history of the country or building more miles of fence than any other president.

The truth is, Mr. President, like Sens. Dick Durbin and Robert Menendez said this week: You can act unilaterally on deportations, you can sign an executive order to stop the wholesale deportation of undocumented workers. Over the last five years, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s own figures, your administration has deported 1.93 million people—more deportations than in the eight years under Bush. Every day, another 1,000 people are deported. That’s 42 every hour, of whom, according to a Syracuse University study, less than 15 percent have committed any crime other than crossing the border illegally.

So why aren’t you doing something to help the senseless break up of families? What and who are you afraid of? You are the president of the United States of America, the most powerful person in the world, and you hold executive power. You can use your pen to sign an executive order to halt deportations of all but those who have committed serious crimes until Congress acts on immigration reform.

Do it now for the sake of the Democratic Party in 2014 and 2016. They still need to immigrant votes to win again.

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

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