Al Jazeera Blogs


Americas

Obama 'indebted' to Hispanic community

Hispanic community say that its time Barack Obama pushed for immigration reform after they helped re-elect him.
Last modified: 7 Nov 2012 20:40

Mexicans on both sides of the US-Mexico border have been more than disappointed with  President Barrack Obama’s failure to grant legal status to millions of illegal (mainly Mexican) immigrants.

His much promised comprehensive immigration reform never materialised.

On the contrary, more Mexicans have been deported under the Obama administration than under the two previous administrations combined!

Now,  thanks in great part to the overwhelming support of Hispanic (mainly Mexican) citizens - who accounted for one out of every ten votes - Obama has been re-elected,  and Mexicans are rushing to say that it is pay back time. 

“President Obama has a moral commitment and obligation to really push for immigration reform this time round . He knows he is indebted to the Hispanic community in the United States and to Mexico, both of whom have been waiting too long for Washington to keep its promises.” says political analyst Lorenzo Meyer, from the Colegio de Mexico. 

Mexicans at home and in the United States seem to have faith that Obama will try harder in his second term to help illegal immigrants and their children find a pathway to citizenship, or at least some kind of legal status that will prevent them from being arrested and deported.  

Multiple fears 

This is very important  to  Mexicans  because  one out of every ten lives in the United States, a great many of them illegally. Once they cross the border into the US and find work, they cannot go back without risking detention, especially now that border controls have been tightened.  And if the border guards do not get them, there is also the real danger of being kidnapped and/or murdered by criminal gangs that now prey on illegal migrants all along  the route to Mexico’s northern border. 

Esteban Molina , a 32 year old hairdresser in Mexico City, has not seen his mother since she left to go work in a beauty salon in San Diego, California, eleven years ago. 

"She is trapped. She can’t risk coming back and I can’t get a visa to go see her. All we want is for a safe, legal way to go back and forth,", he told me.

True, in the run-up to the election Obama did use issue an executive order to temporarily implement the Dream Act, meant to give  children of illegal immigrants who are graduating from secondary school the right to go on to higher education, as well as find a path to citizenship.

The deportation of undocumented immigrants who served in the US military was also halted. 

But was this just a measure to win the Hispanic vote? 

Here in Mexico, there is cautious optimism that Obama will give it his best shot, knowing full well that his party does not control Congress. 

If he does not,  Mexicans on both sides of the border are unlikely to give the Democrats the benefit of the doubt next time round when they go to the polls .