“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle.” – Frederick Douglass
It was the struggle of thousands of courageous and unwavering undocumented youth that forced the hand of the very government that has deported over a million and a half undocumented workers in the last four years.
President Barack Obama’s June 15, 2012, announcement on deferred deportation action for Dream-Act-eligible youths is primarily the result of their struggle. The policy could provide relief from deportation for almost a million undocumented youths. Throughout the country, immigrants and advocate groups, including the May 1st Coalition, welcomed the announcement. But a cautious optimism hangs in the air as many point out that other announcements favorable to the undocumented such as last year’s Prosecutorial Discretion have not really been implemented. In fact, immigrant groups point out that only about one percent of cases were closed as a result of this Discretion.
And it is an election year. Many are quick to question the motives behind the announcement.
The New York State Youth Leadership Council declared in a press release: “Until Obama signs an actual executive order promptly halting the deportation of all undocumented youth, youth across the nation will continue to occupy offices demanding that President Obama sign the order. The Prosecutorial Discretion recommendation unfortunately served as a huge disappointment to us as only a mere one percent of all deportation cases were stopped under prosecutorial discretion. For too long, undocumented youth have served as pawns in partisan political games. Our families are constantly torn apart, our humanity is continuously denied and our futures are disregarded.”
The right wing and many Republicans immediately used President Obama’s announcement to ratchet up the anti-immigrant rhetoric. During the news conference where Obama made his announcement a conservative blogger was allowed to heckle Obama, shouting, “What about jobs for Americans?”
This is the ultimate hypocrisy, as the far right is using the dire unemployment crisis as a demagogic excuse to divide workers. Despite the right-wing rhetoric, Obama’s announcement does not mean legalization for the 800,000 young people who could be affected
Furthermore, the over 14 million undocumented people in this country deserve and have earned legalization. It is U.S. foreign and economic policy to begin with that is the main cause of forced migration from Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.
The announcement comes as progressives and immigrants await the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB1070, which is racial profiling on steroids. A favorable ruling is not expected; that decision would result in driving the undocumented further underground open to more extreme exploitation such as massive wage theft.
The president’s announcement also comes as the U.S./Mexican border continues to be militarized, resulting in more deaths at the border. And it comes at a time when our youth continue to be targeted including deaths such as that of Trayvon Martin and Anastacio Hernandez-Reyes.
The May 1st Coalition salutes the struggle of the brave undocumented youth who have openly come out and declared, “We are undocumented and afraid.” We promise to continue to join them and keep on marching, demonstrat ing and fighting for legalization for all. We will continue fight ing for jobs, housing, education, an end to war and racism, and for justice for all workers, not just in the U.S. but around the world.
Si se puede. The struggle continues.
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