Washington Folks at the immigration summit descended on the Capitol to push for reform. There was applause when someone announced that 80,000 emails were sent. The New York Times editorial page gave the activists and their energy props, but also pointed clearly at how few clothes our emperor was wearing, and the case in point was the continued affront of Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County and the way Homeland Security and former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano is shielding and funding Joe and his dangerous posse through 287(g).
Several months ago in the wake of 5000 marchers in Phoenix and the excitement of the new appointments, I was virtually assuring people that 287g was dead on arrival now. I was wrong, and I’ll be darned if I understand why, except that I suspect the inside the Beltway part of the immigration reform movement is giving the White House a “wink and nod,” on this matter rather pushing the point that we all have to see something happen NOW, not just a fight for a bill that may or may not happen over the next year.
There is low lying fruit that this movement needs to pick now. 287g and Arpaio have to be terminated and slapped down. The DREAM act around immigrant education has to be passed this year. There’s more. We have to shake the tree though to pick this fruit.
When the White House Summit around immigration rolls out, perhaps there should be some people in a vigil or a picket line around the White House reminding the President and the Secretary that there needs to be action now? This needs to be part of the debate and the arsenal.
I heard a true story from a friend about a meeting two months ago between Patrick Gaspard, the White House political director, and leaders of the immigration reform movement from LULAC and other groups. Patrick, who I know well, told a story in that meeting that he said President Obama often tells about a meeting around civil rights between legendary labor and civil rights leader, A. Philip Randolph, and President Roosevelt on the topic of integrating the military. The President said that he agreed with Randolph. Randolph said, then let’s make it happen. Roosevelt said that until there were 100,000 people in the streets outside the White House, there was no way to get it done.
My friend was not sure that anyone heard Patrick. Knowing him, I think he issued the movement a work order, and now we need to get it done.
This is not just the time for lobbying. This is the time to turn up the heat and demand results now, not later.