Presidential candidate Barack Obama made to look like revered Mexican president Benito Juarez (1806-1872) in this Spanish-language “change” poster by the Date Farmers, 2008.


by Nativo Vigil Lopez

Protests against President Obama’s immigration enforcement policies are beginning to sweep the country. In some areas the protests are directed at Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, the instrument of the enforcement policy execution, and in other areas President Obama is clearly the target. Some activists have argued that the main criticism and advocacy for a moratorium of such enforcement should be directed at Napolitano, the cabinet member responsible for defining the policy and taking it operational. Others argue that Obama is ultimately responsible for the policy and has in his hands the executive discretion to immediately put a stop to such rampant enforcement. The growing and pressing demand is for an ENFORCEMENT MORATORIUM until fair and humane immigration reform is enacted.

No other presidential administration since 1986 has enforced employer sanctions through the named I-9 audits of personnel files of employers as broadly and efficiently as has the Obama administration. The system of employment verification, short-named eVerify, which allows employers to verify the legal status of their employees against federal government databases, has taken on a new vigorous life under Obama. The fall-out of such enforcement has been massive terminations of long and short-term immigrant workers from their employment during the worst economic down-turn in the country since the 1930s. In one company alone, American Apparel, the largest clothing manufacturing firm in the U.S. with over 10,000 employees, an estimated 1,800 workers are listed for termination. The multiplier factor of Latino family size results in a devastating economic impact on close to 10,000 lives in the Los Angeles region.

Some have exclaimed that the efficiency of these “desk-top” ICE raids and deportations under this administration mirrors the efficiency with which candidate Obama ran his presidential campaign. These raids are more pervasive, sweeping, pernicious, and devastating iin terms of the numbers of individuals impacted than anything executed under President George Bush.

To the degree that the Obama administration declares that it is a crime to work, and pursues and persecutes those workers who are employed in millions of companies throughout America – making incredible economic contributions by their labor and paying the corresponding taxes – than the policy of this president is one of criminalizing immigrant workers and treating them as nothing less than common criminals. This is anathema to all that candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail, which now clearly contradicts the actions of President Obama. Which Obama is to be believed?

Nativo Vigil Lopez is the President of the Mexican American Political Association.

This piece was first disseminated as part of the Mexican American Political Association (MAPA) newsletter, 8/1/09.

See also:Obama loses immigration allies by Stephen Dinan, The Washington Times, July 30, 2009.

One thought on “GUEST EDITORIAL

  1. The Democratic Party is lucky that the idea of ‘flip-flopping’ was worn into the ground as an offensive tactic by the Republicans. This should be an awful political move, since it’s hypocritical, damaging American companies and products, and has enormous ‘human tragedy’ potential for the media, should anyone have an agenda. Considering the recession, the only smooth-talk I can imagine Obama pulling is that now ‘real Americans’ will get the jobs, but that’s not likely since it forces him to address the other issues. Has this had any media coverage? Is there anyone, or any agenda, benefitting from this move?

    It’s really horrible that they hit American Apparel. I’ve read their employees are well compensated, and given a lot of (free, correct me if I’m wrong) assistance integrating, learning English, and becoming citizens. Maybe it’s that dedication getting them hit so hard, I’ve not heard of many other companies going to such lengths to promote immigrant workers’ rights, or even workers’ rights at all. Disregard the perversions of their founder, Dov Charney, and they’re a hell of a company. Strange that a president expected to lean left is taking a hard line on what should be a model for corporate behavior.


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