Letter to President Obama
Dear Mr. President, a few years ago I would not have written this letter to you. My job as a journalist prevents me from getting involved with social issues. Reporters supposedly are witnesses and narrators of history, events, tragedies and successes. We are not supposed to express an opinion, even though we do at times see injustice and suffering. We are to remain quiet and not say anything in favor of any cause no matter how just or unfair.
However, I wonder how much of that work is shielded in journalistic ethics. Are we meant to just to report the news and to quell our feelings? I am tired of feeling like a vulture, trying to get the words out of a mouth full of pain and despair, just for the sake of reporting for the media. I am tired of holding a microphone to someone who just lost a family member or a house, or who is lying, wounded, in a hospital.
I am also tired of reporting the numbers of yearly deportations and the number of families destroyed because they did not enter legally into this country. I am tired of the abuses, violations of human rights, discrimination and prejudice against undocumented immigrants. I believe you, Mr. President, perfectly understand that feeling because your race suffered the same as noted in Martin Luther King Jr’s fight against racial discrimination.
Latino undocumented immigrants have a similar problem. I acknowledge that it may not have been as hard as the discrimination against blacks since we did not come over as slaves, but our countries were looted, our women were raped, and our ancestors were exterminated. As the pilgrims of the Mayflower, we came to this country looking to find a better life, but unfortunately we live in the shadows.
We work as rented mules. We do the job that no one, even your own race, Mr. President, want to do. For a few dollars a day, we leave our children alone at home, or sometimes with dangerous strangers, just to work and feed our families.
The Latino population is now the largest minority in the United States that includes about 12 million of undocumented immigrants. This calls for an immigration reform. The last one was in 1986. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), also known as the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, helped millions of the undocumented to leave the underground and allow them to enjoy the privileges of having a legal status in the first world. Approximately 70 percent of the undocumented immigrants that legalized their residence in that reform were Mexicans and they still remain the most persecuted these days.
Now, with the electoral race starting again and you working on your re-lection, you should remember that four years ago you reached out to the Latino community for our vote. You got it because you guaranteed us an immigration reform. I remember the famous Obama’s promise as a presidential candidate in 2008:
“I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible,” you said in an exclusive interview with Latino reporter Jorge Ramos.
However, in four years in office you avoided bringing that subject to Congress. Immigration attorney Aggie R. Hoffman is quoted saying, ”Obama in his campaign promised to tackle immigration in his first year. But he didn’t send a single immigration bill to Congress.”
Even worse, during the three first years of your presidency, your administration deported 1.2 million undocumented immigrants.
Different states of the nation such as Arizona, Kansas, Iowa, Utah, Indiana, Georgia, and other states have tightened their laws against undocumented immigrants, especially Latinos, who are the easiest target because of our brown skin. Police have profile American citizens who have been in this country for generations, and some have been deported because they do no have any documents on them when requested.
Martin Luther King Jr. said in his Letter from Birmingham: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere,” and “Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider.” I believe in King’s words and I believe you believe in them also. But we elected you to apply those words to all residents in our country.
Mr. President, my people are tired of bowing their heads to discrimination, humiliations and offenses. They have no human rights. They are robbed, raped, torture and even killed. But they do not denounce the crime they suffer for fear of being persecuted, jailed and deported.
They are powerless.
Someone said that we are a country without memory. I agree. We completely forgot that this country was populated with immigrants that came to this land to live free. We forgot how the Native-American, the real owners of this land, were exterminated and expelled into reservations. The current owners of this country populated it with runaways that decided to take a ship and make of this country their Promised Land.
Many have forgotten how their ancestors came here starving, barefoot and almost naked to build a better future for their families. Now they call us “illegal aliens” only because their generations came here before us. But our ancestors were here centuries before. We are American for right and birth. They forgot how the United States stole Mexican territory, and we became strangers in our own land. They see the color of our skin and assume we are undocumented, although there are hundreds of thousands of European undocumented immigrants as well, yet they are not harassed.
Yes, Mr. President, we are people without memory. We don’t treat others as we want to be treated, especially people of color or undocumented residents undocumented or not. Not everything is black and white. And more, I have seen Africans discriminated even though they are black but they were not born here.
People ask, “How often do you go home” without seeing that this country is our home. People don’t recognize that undocumented immigrants do the work that not a white or black people, from any race, refuse to do.
When have you seen a Latino, Asian or from another race begging for money in the streets? How many Latinos or from other races are in the government offices waiting to receive food stamps and/or money?
We are not generations supported by Welfare. We came here to work and receive our meager income. We work the sweat of our brow until we are no longer hungry but are dead tired.
I understand if Republicans and some Democrats as well, are against an immigration reform. I know our country is going bankrupt and companies are saying we need more skilled people to help the American economy, instead of unskilled workers. But we need cooks in the kitchens and farm workers to pick up the nation’s food, even though they cannot create jobs as skilled workers as others develop with new technologies.
I know that government spends money to educate children of undocumented immigrants but that is a social obligation and they are the future of our nation. An immigration reform will bring more good consequences than bad consequences to the nation, according to the study The Economic Benefits of Comprehensive Immigration Reform:
An annual increase in U. S. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) results in at least $1.5 trillion. With an increment in wages for both native-born and newly legalized immigrant workers, the temporary worker program produces an annual increase in U. S. GDP amount of $792 billion. It has been shown that mass deportation of undocumented immigrants reduce $2.6 trillion of the GDP for this country.
So, I dare you, Mr. President, and I dare your Cabinet, and to all politicians and activists to think twice about an immigration reform and stop avoiding to deal with this issue.