Letter No. 101: Immigration reform now!

Felicia Persaud | 11/13/2014, 2:20 p.m.

Dear Mr. President,

The question you must now ask yourself is whether you will continue to give in to Republicans and their dire threats and warnings should you take executive action on immigration reform—or will you act now for your base, the sake of the Democratic Party in 2016 and your presidential legacy?

Like many advocates and immigrants, I want to again believe you when Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 6, on the heels of the post-election defeat of Democrats, you told reporters you are willing to authorize an immigration reform bill yourself to kick-start lawmakers in the House of Representatives and Senate to work on their own solution.

This is a smart move, despite what John Boehner, John McCain and, suddenly, Condoleezza Rice say. You must not continue to punish immigrants at the behest of the GOP, an anti-immigrant party that had enough time to act and did nothing.

The time for that is over. That was the last six years, when immigration reform stalled in the Congress all because of Republican Party lawmakers. In fact, they should be made to fear the immigrant voting bloc come 2016, and you can make that happen if you act for the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States now.

The GOP may feel emboldened now, but the results from Nov. 4 do not reflect a national consensus—just agreement by a small group that is not your base anyway.

The reality is, Mr. President, that your delay on executive action the first time around hurt Senate Democrats such as Mark Udall in Colorado and Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Your second delay undoubtedly hurt last week with immigrant voters, especially Latinos, despite the silly call by Democratic senators to leave executive immigration action alone.

That second delay alienated many and angered Latino and immigrant voters, and all for what?

The Republican Party swept aside Democrats Nov. 4 and took control of both houses of Congress because, at the end of the day, they were able to energize their base to vote against you. Democrats were unable to energize their base of women, Black, immigrant and young voters, who felt alienated and dismissed by you and your party.

You cannot continue to listen to the GOP and its threats. This time around, you must act and act now for 2016 and the future of this country.

The growing immigrant and Latino voting bloc will be key to a 2016 Democratic comeback. Looking at Pew Hispanic Center figures, 57 percent of Latino registered voters support the Democratic candidate in their congressional district or lean Democratic, whereas 28 percent favor the Republican candidate or lean Republican, a greater than 2-to-1 advantage for Democrats.

But the Pew Center also found that support for congressional Democrats is down from 2010, when 65 percent of Latino registered voters backed the Democrat in their congressional district and 22 percent favored the Republican candidate. Additionally, the share of Hispanic registered voters who say there is no difference between the two parties is up to 35 percent today from 23 percent in 2012, the Pew Center found. But there is hope because just 10 percent still say the Republican Party has more concern than the Democratic Party for the Hispanic community, unchanged since 2012.

There are no more excuses to delay executive action. Remember, now your presidential legacy is at stake. As Presente.org asks, “Will you be remembered as the worst president ever in regard to immigration for deporting a record number of immigrants, or will you be the president that took a stand, and when faced with an unfavorable Congress made a decision to keep millions of families together?”

Mr. President, it’s all in your hands.

Respectfully,

Felicia Persaud

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