Immigration keeps heating up

NEW YORK — The nation’s temperature is rising rapidly as supporters and opponents of the immigrants await, with growing anxiety, President Obama’s executive orders.

It is expected that, by summer’s end, Obama will announce such measures, which could determine the fate of millions of undocumented immigrants. And while the speculations are many and the certainties few, the expectation and the tension felt by the immigrants — who don’t expect the President to do the right thing but cling to hope, tooth and nail — rise every day.

In like manner, the tension rises among the anti-immigrant extremists, who don’t know what to expect, also distrust Obama and fear an executive decision that would temporarily legalize 5 million foreigners. To them, that’s inadmissible.

Some episodes that might be considered previews of a movie have already begun on the border and the streets of Arizona, Texas, and Washington D.C. Here’s a couple of examples.

One of them, provoked by the controversial law S.B.1070, occurred Sunday in Tucson, Ariz. That law requires local police to check the immigration status of any person with whom they come into contact during the performance of their duties.

“The community gathered because we don’t know what to do next. We have staged a lot of protests outside the police station,” said Angie Loreto, who participated in a chaotic demonstration organized by the pro-immigrant group Protection Network Coalition to keep Nolan Flores, an undocumented Nicaraguan arrested for a traffic violation, from being turned over to the Border Patrol.

Flores, 29, has lived in Tucson for more than 10 years. He was returning from a hospital after visiting his wife, who had just given birth. According to his neighbors, Flores, the second immigrant to be turned over to the Border Patrol in less than a week, is a good father, a hard-working man who has never been in trouble with the law.

In what may have been an unprecedented action that points to a growing level of frustration, two demonstrators, Rachel Winch and Sandra Garnica, lay under the Border Patrol car that carried Flores to keep it from moving. Immediately, six Border Patrol agents and 10 policemen proceeded to arrest them. Both were released hours later.

“I did it because we have to impede the criminalization of our people,” said Garnica about her unusual action.

Across the street one sees extremist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, who, armed with rifles, pretend they’re patrolling the border. Their vileness is such that they declare their intention to “leave a couple of bodies lying on the border” to dissuade possible immigrants from coming to the U.S.

Last Thursday, militiamen calling themselves the National Border Convoy arrived by bus in San Antonio, Texas, and held a noisy demonstration lasting two hours outside the Mexican consulate. They said they were protesting Mexico’s failure to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants and the traffic of drugs.

In another clear indication of a rise in tensions, the extremist group, which had scheduled its protest for Wednesday, said — through its vociferous leader, Pete Santilli — that it had to postpone it because it had received death threats. If true, the threat was something seldom seen before.

Incidents like these, as well as confrontations between pro- and anti-immigration groups with a real potential for violence, are expected to occur again in the next several weeks.

It remains to be seen if the expected executive actions will be sufficient to cool the tempers. Most probably, they won’t fully satisfy the pro-immigration side, much less the opposition, which includes the Republicans in Congress who are threatening to impeach the President.

In sum, everything seems to indicate that, no matter what Obama announces, the heat will continue unabated long after summer has ended.