On Eve of State of the Union Address, Immigration Reform Activists Show Impatience With Obama

Immigration reform protest outside DHS in Washington DC - Image: Video capture/The Matea Group
What a difference a year makes. The “Sí, se puede” chants that supported President Barack Obama a year ago are now aimed at him.

As Obama gets ready to deliver a State of the Union address in which he may mention immigration reform, pro-immigrant activists are reminding him that he had promised to deal with this issue in his first year in office, only to act mostly on the enforcement side of immigration.

On Tuesday, some 150 activists blocked streets near the Department of Homeland Security in Washington D.C. to underscore “the growing disenchantment with the administration’s inaction on immigration reform,” according to a press release by the organizers published on the VivirLatino blog.

“The protest was held to call for an immediate suspension of deportations of immigrants with U.S. citizen family members and action on passage of comprehensive immigration reform. Held on the eve of the President’s State of the Union address, it highlights the growing frustration of immigrants and their families regarding the administration’s failure to deliver on basic commitments made during the 2008 presidential race.”

Watch a video of the protest by The Matea Group/YouTube

Over the last year, we’ve documented the growing disenchantment with the Obama administration of Hispanic and immigration activists as the president and other officials expressed support for immigration reform but put other priorities first.

Protesters in D.C. said their patience has run out.

“We’ve been really patient in terms of hoping the Obama administration will do the right thing,” Mary Moreno, of the Center for Community Change, told Southern Maryland Online. “We’re not going to wait any longer. We’re going to be more vocal.”

As in the recent New York demonstrations for the release of Haitian-born activist Jean Montrevil, activists engaged in civil disobedience by blocking the street. But, The Washington Post reported, they did not manage to get arrested.

Obama may address immigration reform in his speech Wednesday night, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told USA Today‘s David Jackson. But apparently it would only be to remind Congress that the ball is in their court.

At least some progressive Democrats on Capitol Hill intend to push for an overhaul, despite the grim prognosis brought on by Senator-elect Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D.-Ariz.), leader of the Progressive Caucus, told the Post: “We are going to push,” he said. “Maybe I’m masochist, but I’m still optimistic.”

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