We Can’t Wait

By Nowmee Shehab

When can DREAMers stop chaining themselves to the White House fence? When can immigration reforms activists stop staging sit ins? When can the practice of separating children and parents be stopped? How long do we have to wait for President Obama or the U.S. House of Representative to fix our broken immigration system?

 Why Feminists Should Care

Last Friday, a group of immigrant youth, mothers and LGBTQ leaders gathered outside the Democratic National Committee (DNC) annual women’s leadership conference, where President Obama is set to speak. This actions follows recent sit ins at the Congressional office of the LGBT Equality Caucus and at Majority Leader Senator Reid’s office. The activists outside the DNC are joining a national call for President Obama to take executive action on immigration. These activists are youth who cannot access higher education, who are scared that their parents are going to be deported. They are mothers and fathers fighting to stop their families from being broken apart. Immigration is clearly a feminist issue because there are millions of women and their families being affected by this unjust and violent system. The LGBTQ community leaders realized the importance of fighting for immigration reform and have been working for migrant justice for years. Recently 60 + LGBTQ organizations wrote a letter to the White House to amend the administration’s deportation policies. We need the feminist community to come out and also advocate for this issue.

Who are DREAMers?

There have around 2 million deportations of immigrants under President Obama’s administration. This is one of the most aggressive enforcement programs in the history of the United States. Currently there are about 1 million undocumented youth who were brought here as children- DREAMers. In June 2012, President Obama signed a memo calling for a deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) which delayed deportation procedures and gave work authorization for two years for undocumented youth who have pursued military service or education. Through March 2014 USCIS approved 550,000 DACA applications which has helped youth get jobs, internships and apply for colleges however DACA is set to expire this fall. With the lack of action by the House leadership on this issue – the bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate has been sitting in the House Speaker’s office for more than a year now- immigration advocacy groups have started focusing on President Obama to act executively and for Congress to support these executive orders.

Presidential Power

President Obama promised action on immigration by the end of the summer and Congress people should hold him accountable to that statement. Congressional Hispanic Caucus has sent President Obama a list of legal actions that he can take earlier this year and they are going to follow up with the administration about this issue. The President has wide executive authority to provide protection to undocumented people from deportation. Almost every President since Eisenhower has used executive power (21 times) to provide affirmative relief protecting immigrants. Earlier in September, backtracking on what he said earlier, President Obama announced that he is going to wait till after the midterm election to take executive action on immigration. This is clearly putting politics above people’s safety and wellbeing of the immigrant community. We cannot wait any longer President Obama. We need you to take broad, affirmative action so that our families can stay together.

 Photo Credit: United We Dream 

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