NEW YORK — For the first time in a long time, 5 million immigrants will have much to celebrate and give thanks for tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day.
Finally, after six years of indecision and false promises, President Obama took, in view of Congressional inaction, the long-hoped-for executive actions that protect them — while only temporarily — from deportations and grant them permits to work legally.
There is euphoria in the immigrant community and with good reason. But there’s also the danger that, in the midst of jubilation, we might forget that more than half of the undocumented population — 6 million men, women and children who don’t qualify for the protection granted by the presidential decree — will have nothing to be thankful for or celebrate on this Thanksgiving Day.
That is why we mustn’t forget that executive actions should turn into an urgent call to continue the struggle for true and permanent solutions to the situation of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.
It is not that the measures announced by Obama are a pittance, but undoubtedly they are insufficient and dangerously wobbly in their temporariness, subject to the swings of electoral policy.
As Obama himself has explained it, the protection provided by this deferred action expires three years from now, and at this time it is not possible to know what will happen once that time period ends.
It is perfectly possible that the Republicans will retake the White House in 2016. If this happens (though many think that it is unlikely) it cannot be ruled out that they will try to reverse the measures taken by Obama.
Therefore, it is essential that Latinos join the electoral process in massive numbers to keep that from happening.
Hispanics should register to vote and should use that right in the 2016 elections to elect a president who’s willing to maintain migratory relief and to exert his leadership to make Congress pass laws that will resolve the immigration crisis once and for all.
Sadly, reality has changed very little for the 6 million immigrants who are not included in the executive actions.
For them, earning a living by working honestly will continue to be a crime, and the possibility of deportation and family separation — deportations do not end completely with these measures — will continue to darken their lives and those of their families.
“I was disappointed to see that the parents of the Dreamers are being left out,” said immigration attorney Allan Wernick, director of the Citizenship Now! project of the City University of New York (CUNY).
Wernick was expressing one of the most obvious ironies of Obama’s decision, if you take into account the fact that the moral crisis created by the fearless militancy of these young people played a fundamental role in pushing Obama into adopting these measures.
Such is the situation of Erika Andiola, whose mother is not among those benefited by deferred action. Andiola is one of the main leaders of the Dream Action Coalition, one of the most active organizations in favor of the executive actions.
“Unfortunately, the parents of the Dreamers who do not have siblings who are citizens or legal residents in the U.S. are not included in the immigration relief,” Andiola told The Real News.
Amid the euphoria, the immigrant community should not forget that this Thanksgiving Day 6 million immigrants will have nothing to be thankful for or celebrate.
Much remains to be done to achieve a permanent and definitive solution to the situation of all the undocumented immigrants in this country.