On June 16, 2012, Peter Herbert wrote a great blog about the logic of Barack Obama’s recent decision to grant extended, renewable visas to illegal immigrants who came here with their parents as children, so that they can stay in school, on the job, or in the military. Immigration reform is an important issue, as it affects millions of lives and affects many businesses that rely on the labor of these people. On March 10, 2012 the group Campaign For An America Dream sponsored a walk of activists that started in San Francisco and hopes to travel 3,000 miles across the U.S. to promote the Dream Act and immigration reform. They’ve inspired a lot of conversation about the subject and have influenced many people whom they have contacted to consider the merits of a fair immigration reform. President Obama’s recent decision to stop the deportation of young illegal immigrants was partially influenced by the actions of activists like these Dream walkers, as well as a civil disobedience campaign of sit-ins and hunger strikes by Dream activists at Obama campaign offices in more than a dozen cities.
The protests at the Obama campaign offices started on June 5 in Denver, Colorado. Participants in the Dream Walk, as well as members of Colorado, Organize, Resist, and Escalate (COORE) will delivered a letter to the Obama Campaign office in Denver, then staged a “Coming out of the Shadows” rally. In addition, Veronica Gomez and Javier Hernandez, undocumented immigrant activists with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, had staged a six-day hunger strike inside the Obama for America offices in Denver.
These protests did have some influence on Obama, as the protests were timed to coincide with the efforts of the Obama campaign to reach out to Hispanic voters. A New York Times article by JULIA PRESTON and HELENE COOPER noted:
In recent weeks, the White House faced intense pressure from some of its closest allies — their voices often raised in frustration — to provide some relief for immigrant communities. The urging came from Harry Reid of Nevada and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the top two Democrats in the Senate, and the Hispanic caucus in the House of Representatives, as well as Latino and immigrant leaders across the country.
Bleak figures reported early this month by the Department of Homeland Security showed that a yearlong program designed to shift enforcement away from illegal immigrants who pose no security risk was not producing results, with only about 500 young students nationwide spared from deportation.
And last week, students without immigration papers started a campaign of sit-ins and hunger strikes at Obama campaign offices in more than a dozen cities, saying that despite his promises, the president was continuing to deport immigrants like them.
After three years of record deportation numbers and cautious moves on other immigration policies, Mr. Obama finally used his executive authority in a sweeping way that surprised even his supporters, ending deportations for at least 800,000 immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally when they were children.
If you want to follow the activist who are participating in the Dream Walk, you can follow the Campaign for an American Dream facebook page. I end this blog with something that Howard Zinn wrote in the October 2008 issue of the Progressive Magazine:
Whoever is President, the crucial factor for change will be how much agitation there is in the country on behalf of change. I am guessing that Obama may be more sensitive than McCain to such turmoil, since it will come from his supporters, from the enthusiasts who will register their disillusionment by taking to the streets. Franklin D. Roosevelt was not a radical, but he was more sensitive to the economic crisis in the country and more susceptible to pressure from the Left than was Herbert Hoover…
…So, yes, I will vote for Obama, because the corrupt political system offers me no choice, but only for the moment I pull down the lever in the voting booth.
Before and after that moment I want to use whatever energy I have to push him toward a recognition that he must defy the traditional thinkers and corporate interests surrounding him, and pay homage to the millions of Americans who want real change.
A youtube video of Veronica Gomez and Javier Hernandez on a hunger strike urging President Obama to stop deporting immigrant youth
A youtube video of a Campaign for an American DREAM and Salt Lake City DREAM Team rally at the State Capitol of Utah on May 10th, 2012
A youtube video of the Dream Walk
A youtube video of a Dream Act rally at the New York State Capitol on March 15, 2012
A youtube video of a Dream Act protest in Arizona during the GOP Presidential debate
A youtube video of President Obama announcing a new Department of Homeland Security policy that will allow certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings