Posts Tagged ‘family separation’

The Obamas Talk Immigration

In Uncategorized on February 20, 2009 at 6:05 pm

Over the past few days, both of the Obamas–Barack and Michelle–have had something to say about immigration.

On Tuesday, President Obama interviewed with El Piolín, or Eddie Sotelo, the popular radio host of El Piolín por la mañana (which is THE top ranking radio show in Los Angeles–regardless of language–and its 50 syndicated markets).

Prior to that, Michelle responded to questions about immigration when she participated in a roundtable at the Mary’s Center Teen Program.

President Obama’s telephone appearance made a number of important statements (literal and political) about immigration and, in general, to the Spanish-speaking community:

  1. Obama is keeping his promise to the Latino and Spanish-speaking community by reaching out and making sure that the community stays involved and has access to the Whitehouse
  2. Obama’s response to El Piolín’s questions demonstrated his understanding that–as studies have shown–Latinos are being disproportionately affected in the current economic crisis.
  3. Obama spoke directly about the need for immigration reform when he said:

Well, as I’ve said every time I’ve been on the show, Piolín, we’re going to make sure that we begin the process of dealing with the immigration system that’s broken. We’re going to start by really trying to work on how to improve the current system so that people who want to be naturalized, who want to become citizens, like you did, that they are able to do it; that it’s cheaper, that it’s faster, that they have an easier time in terms of sponsoring family members.

And then we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform. Now, you know, we need to get started working on it now. It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen. And we’re going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months.”

Then, when Michelle visited the Mary’s Center Teen Program last week, one of her host asked her what she thought her husband and the new administration could do about the issue of family separation, that is, families being split up because one or both of the parents are deported.

She responded: “Well I think that’s something that the President has talked a lot about, in terms of immigration reform, which has to be tackled at some point, is keeping families together. So that definitely has to be a part of the conversation when we talk about any kind of immigration reform. And I think some of it is creating awareness through your own stories about, you know, the challenges that you’re facing, and, you know, what happens when you’ve got a parent who’s in one place and a parent in another, and kids who are here learning and contributing, and how important it is to make sure we keep families together. ”

Michelle also praised the passage and signing of SCHIP, a program which provides health insurance to children and last month was extended to cover legal immigrant children and pregnant women.

I think these interviews indicate that the Obamas know the effects our broken immigration system is having on our communities. And they believe in a community response to these effects rather than defering to hate and fear.

But, as Michelle said, we also have to do our part by creating awareness of what is going on and building the political space for President Obama to bring immigration reform to the forefront of U.S. politics.