Vol. 5    No. 13
JULY 1, 2010

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       As I stop to reflect for a moment, I have to admire President Barack Obama. He certainly is a man of
character and action. Trying to bring an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — using a strategy that many in
his own party do not agree with — turning around the Great Recession in under two years with a massive
stimulus plan, reforming our banking and finance laws to curb the recklessness on Wall Street that led us to
the Great Recession, shepherding through Congress and through massive special interest opposition a
massive health care overhaul and forcing BP to create a $20 billion restitution and recovery fund while trying
to get the Gulf oil leak plugged by the only folks who have the technology to plug it and happen to be the ones
who caused it, one would think that President Obama has enough on his plate. And he’s been doing this in
spite of the fact that Republicans have been blocking dozens of his top administrative appointments. Even
considering the response to Hurricane Katrina, I don’t think President George W. Bush dealt with this many
issues — or passed as much legislation — in his eight years as president as President Obama has in just 18
months. There are a lot of complainers out there, many of whom just want Obama to fail. But Obama has gotten
an incredible amount of work done. For some, that is the problem.
      Early in his presidency, Obama stated that if his were a one-term presidency, he could live with that if the
reason his was only one-term was because he dealt with all of the difficult issues that America was facing. He
is willing to take the hit in order to ensure the long-term viability and greatness of the United States. He is
willing to make a short-term personal sacrifice for the well-being of the nation. If that isn’t greatness, I don’t
know what is.
      In an election year around this time, Washington, D.C. begins to resemble a ghost town because
Congressmen are bust spending time in their districts trying to get reelected and deferring any major
legislation until December so that their election opponents can’t use the legislation to beat them over the head
with and steal the election. There are winners and losers with any legislation and why add to the list of losers
so close to an election?
      And yet, during this period when his once favorable public opinion poll ratings have fallen continuously,
President Obama declared yesterday that it is time to take on the overhaul of the U.S.’s immigration policy in a
speech at American University.
      “This is an emotional question, and one that lends itself to demagoguery,” Obama declared. “Time and
again, this issue has been used to divide and inflame — and to demonize people. And so the understandable,
the natural impulse among those who run for office is to turn away and defer this question for another day, or
another year, or another administration. Despite the courageous leadership in the past shown by many
Democrats and some Republicans — including, by the way, my predecessor, President Bush — this has been
the custom.  That is why a broken and dangerous system that offends our most basic American values is still
in place.
      “But I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that’s accountable,”
Obama continued. “I believe we can appeal not to people’s fears but to their hopes, to their highest ideals,
because that’s who we are as Americans. It’s been inscribed on our nation’s seal since we declared our
independence. “E Pluribus Unum.”  Out of many, one.  That is what has drawn the persecuted and
impoverished to our shores. That’s what led the innovators and risk-takers from around the world to take a
chance here in the land of opportunity. That’s what has led people to endure untold hardships to reach this
place called America.”
      In some ways, America has remained the same. For centuries, people have crossed the political
boundaries of Mexico and the United States in pursuit of life, liberty and property. That whole region regardless
of political borders has been heavily influenced by Latinos and indigenous people. That has always been.
American has also changed because it depends upon Latino and other immigrant workers to fuel its economic
engine to provide the upward mobility of many of its citizens. The number of immigrants needed has far
outstripped the number of immigrants that the system now provides. The lack of reform is an injustice,
creating unnecessary hardship and suffering. Once again, President Obama is showing his character by
taking on such a fundamental issue. Sí se puede!
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                             Immigration Issues