The Devil We Know is No Longer the Devil We’ll Keep!

In what many consider this to be a very close midterm election, California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez may have inadvertently sealed the fate of many Democrats running for office.  Not since Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America” helped Republicans control both houses of Congress have Democrats held a true majority in both houses today.  But with the numbers being so close, the White House, and certainly the Democratic Party leadership, have been careful not to alienate any of their allies.  Polls may show one politician leading over another, but when the issue is as important, as divisive, and as unstable to an incumbent’s re-election chances, the last thing you want is a known leader openly threatening an entire bloc of voters.  Ms. Sanchez may not have really considered her words carefully, but you know that many watching have finally heard the last straw.  At least, let’s hope they have.

In her interview with Jorge Ramos’ show, “Al Punto” this past Sunday, Jorge Ramos asked Ms. Sanchez if Democrats are as much to blame as President Obama for failing to push through immigration reform when he promised he would.  Being completely mindful of an earlier exchange where Ramos reminded her that they [Democrats] had a chance but did nothing about immigration reform — referring obviously to holding a majority in both Houses of Congress — Ms. Sanchez then launched what I am certain will be the very last thing anyone in her party wanted her to divulge:

“I am going to lay it in front of the Latino community. If we do not win in November, there will be no vote for a reform for another 10 or 20 years.  If we win, we will have a vote in November or December.  I do not know if we’ll pass the law but we will take a vote. But if we do not win, we are going to have to wait another 10 to 20 years because what is happening in this country is very anti-immigration.”

Is it possible that Ms. Sanchez finally revealed the Democratic strategy for winning re-election? For many of us who like to pay attention to these things, this is nothing new.  We can read the writing on the wall and know when we’re being yanked around.  This is precisely why a group of community leaders in Los Angeles created the Southern California Immigration Coalition within days of President Obama’s victory in November 2008.  Their goal was simple: to hold the President accountable for his promise and ensure that whatever immigration reform package that comes out of Washington, D.C. is humane and just.  While the organization was criticized by other more established immigration-rights organizations, the folks at SCIC did not shy away from protesting against a popular president, even standing up to members of their own community whose attempts to silence them fell on deaf ears.

Many of us knew from the moment the president delayed pushing for immigration reform within his first 100 days, first 6 months, or first year over external factors that immigration reform was not going to be likely; and we were right. Even before taking office, certainly before the financial crisis really hit home, his Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, was already saying he didn’t see this happening until after the midterm elections — proving yet again that more often than not the Chief of Staff, or as was the case with President George W. Bush, the Vice President, is the de-facto President of the United States.  The president rarely knows what is going on or how to govern, which is why he must surround himself with people smarter than him to set the wheels in motion.  After the economic crisis came health care, then banking reform, Haiti, and a slew of other excuses to even initiate genuine dialogue.  Even his attempts to address our concerns over the status of immigration reform were nothing more than photo ops with carefully selected and loyal-to-the-party ‘Latino community leaders’ at the White House.

So what was Ms. Sanchez really saying then?  And why aren’t we surprised?  For the past 25 years, since President Reagan’s general amnesty, Congress has been promising a more comprehensive reform package that would streamline the process, but nothing has come of that.  Over time, politicians on both sides of the aisle have used the need for reform for political gain and manipulation.  When Republicans don’t want Democrats focused on passing or trying to defeat a specific law, they come up with some anti-immigrant legislation to distract them.  In 2005, House Resolution 4437, “The Border Protection, Anti-terrorism, and Illegal Immigration Control Act of 2005”, commonly referred to as the Sensenbrenner Bill,  created an uproar with the community that put Democrats on the defensive, at least in front of the media but not in front of their respective floors.  Worse yet, when the timing isn’t quite right for a national anti-immigrant law, Republicans turn to the states to create the same confusion Democrats keep falling for time and again.  Two years into President Clinton’s term, Republicans began their strategy of immigrant bashing in California when Proposition 187 was announced.  While Democrats scratched their heads, more and more states began to consider similar legislations.  Yet rather than act to derail the Republican control agenda, they let things happen without even putting up a fight.  Unfortunately for Democrats, the passage of Arizona’s AB1070 and other legislations across the country aimed at denying housing and other services to undocumented immigrants resulted in an uproar by the community and the world.

As expected, just shortly before AB1070 was to be implemented, President Obama became the saving grace, sending his army of lawyers to Arizona to sue that state in federal court, promising to fight tooth and nail to defend the Supremacy Clause.  Many in the Latino community praised him for doing this.  Yet underneath this act of heroism hides another side of the Democratic party, one that Congresswoman Sanchez mistakenly made public on Sunday.  While most Latinos were taking a big sigh of relief when the Democrats came to the rescue, the President approved $600M of money we don’t have to pay for agents the southern border States will not be getting for another year and a half.  In the meantime, however, to appease those Democratic voters sympathetic to the Arizona law, he sent in a few thousand members of the US military to provide security until those men and women have undergone their training.  This is a typical Sun Tzu tactic; distract thine enemy.  But why would the Democrats feel the need to treat undocumented immigrants and the Latino voters with such disrespect?

When Congresswoman Sanchez opened that can of worms, she in essence threatened those eligible Latino voters and those of us questioning and criticizing the Democrats that if we don’t get in line, if we don’t maintain our allegiance, if we don’t do our solemn duty to support them and oppose the others, and the Democrats lose, they will not do anything about immigration reform for quite some time.  But 10 years? Twenty years?  If in 2014 the president should win re-election and Democrats should win both houses — assuming they lose one of them or both in 2012 because we did not vote for them —  is she suggesting that even then they won’t move to pass some form of reform? If that is the case, would that be their vendetta against us?  I don’t like to be scolded anymore than the next person, so when an elected official figuratively pointing her finger at me and says that if they lose we won’t get our ultimate prize for another 10 to 20 years, even if they were to win just 2 years down the row, I can’t help but wonder how else they seem to be screwing us.  Somewhere out there are smarter people than me who know the answer to this question; but for my part, I can say that the devil we know will no longer be the devil we intend to keep.  So Congresswoman Sanchez, you and the Democratic Party can keep your common-sense analysis of the voting process and while you’re at it, be sure to draft up some last minute friendly bill that congratulates the Democrats for the good work you think you’re doing and have done for our community, because up until this moment you’ve been nothing but a constant disappointment.  And come November, you and the president will see just how much we’re really going to be looking forward to electing “new change” in 2014.

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