President Obama sounds good on immigration reform, but advocates say he seldom delivers on his promises

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill), a fierce champion of immigration reform, is without a doubt an optimist. What is not so certain is if his optimism is based on reality.

“I believe he is going to liberate from deportation millions of undocumented who live in the U.S.,” Gutiérrez recently said in an interview with Hoy, a Spanish language Chicago newspaper, talking about the eagerly awaited announcement by President Obama on what executive actions he will take with regard to immigration.

Obama, Gutiérrez added, “will be generous,” and his actions will benefit parents of citizens, people with approved green card applications, immigrants who have lived in the U.S. many years and do not have a criminal record, and others.

Sounds good.

The problem is that, as with many other issues, Obama always sounds good but seldom acts according to his words.

Right now, while everyone is waiting for his executive actions that supposedly will provide relief to millions of immigrants, his administration has established new procedures to rush deportation hearings for the border children.

The administration’s idea is for the kids to appear before a judge within 21 days after being put into deportation proceedings. Even though the administration says the accelerated procedures will not harm legal standards, advocates think otherwise.

“We have to provide the children an opportunity to be heard and to present their claims for protection under domestic and international law,” said Lonni Benson, director of the Safe Passage Project, a New York legal services provider. But she expressed concern that the rush to process the children will make it much more difficult for them to find legal representation.

In practical terms not having legal help means the great majority of the children, even those with valid claims to refugee status, will be deported.

According to a Syracuse University report, about 90% of unaccompanied children seeking asylum without an attorney were deported. Yet, of those with legal assistance 47% were able to stay in the country.

It is, if you ask me, a strange way to help alleviate the immigration crisis.

It is also difficult, if not impossible, to know what Obama is really thinking about Cuba. Although he has insisted he would like to change the 50-year-old failed embargo policy, his actions contradict his words.

“We have to update our policy. Don’t forget that when

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Castro came to power I had just been born,” Obama said in Miami in

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November 2013.

Then, last May 12, when Uruguayan President José Mujica met in Washington with him, it was widely reported that Obama had told the South American leader that he intended to go ahead with a policy change on Cuba.

“I have two years left. This is the moment,” Obama reportedly told Mujica. However, once again, what Obama says resembles little what he does.

You all remember the “zunzuneo” disaster — also known as the Cuban twitter — a laughable, failed U.S. Agency for International Development project that, as the Associated Press revealed in April, was created to provoke dissent on the island and had, as its ultimate goal, overthrowing the Cuban government.

But amateur hour did not end there. Last week the AP also made public another dumb act in Washington’s comedy of errors also concocted by USAID. This time the idea was to change the Havana regime by secretly sending Costa Rican, Venezuelan and Peruvian young people to the island to provoke rebellion. Some of them were paid $5.40 an hour for their undercover services, which must have made them the cheapest mercenaries in the world.

A strange way to improve relations, don’t you think?

Something is clear: Taking Obama at his word is a risky business. That’s why, even though I wish Gutiérrez is right about the President’s generosity to immigrants, I wouldn’t hold my breath, just in case.

albor.ruiz@aol.com

 

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