President Obama Sends A Message to DREAM Youth: My Administration Will Continue to Deport You
Washington, DC – On Monday night, on Univision network’s Latino youth town hall, President Obama said that it wasn’t his responsibility to stop the deportation of DREAM Act youth. Just the week before, on the same television network, he said his administration was not deporting those youth at all.
Last Wednesday, Jorge Ramos, of Univision asked the President about his record of deporting more immigrants than President Bush. The President said,“we have refocused our efforts on those who have engaged in criminal activity.” Furthermore, he said, “We aren’t going around rounding up students,” the President told Ramos last Wednesday, “that is completely false.”
Then on Monday, Karen Maldonado, a United We Dream (UWD), Education Not Deportation Campaign eligible DREAMer, told the President her story about being rounded up by federal immigration agents, put into prison and then given an order to leave of the country she calls home. Holding up her deportation order, she asked, “My question for the President is, why (is he) saying that deportations have stopped, or the detention of many students like me? If so, why is it that we are still receiving deportation letters like this one?” Karen is not alone, countless young people who have grown up in America and set to succeed with a college degree or military career are being forced out to the country by the Department of Homeland Security.
Faced by a young person who disproved his claim about his Administration’s treatment of these young people, the President now seemed to concede that students and young people eligible for the DREAM Act are being deported and says that it’s not his responsibility to change that: “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the President, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that. That’s part of my job,” he said. When Ramos asked a follow-up question about granting formal administrative relief to undocumented youth, Obama was even more forceful: “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.”
After the program, Ms. Maldonado reacted to the President’s response by saying, “I think he wants to help” but “the president kept going in circles. It looks like he did not want to answer my question. I wonder if he is just making this up. He gives us hope but is not doing anything about it”. And that is exactly what undocumented youth all over the country have been looking for; ever since the President first spoke in favor of the DREAM Act, they have been waiting for him to act on his words. It is no longer enough to hear his support, and immigrant youth are prepared to hold the President accountable.
“A week ago, the President assured young immigrants and anchor Jorge Ramos, that students and young immigrants eligible for the DREAM Act were safe,” said Maricela Aguilar, an undocumented leader that works with high school youth in Wisconsin and is part of the National Coordinating Committee (NCC) of UWD. But on Monday night, the President acknowledged that his Administration was, in fact, arresting and deporting these young people and shockingly told a high school honors student facing deportation that if she had a problem with it, she could call her Congressman. This was an opportunity for leadership, not a time to play hot potato.”
“We can only hope that in the months ahead, the President finds his way and steps up for these young people who all of America agree, deserve an opportunity.” said Felipe Matos, another UWD NCC member. “He will be held accountable by our community if we lose (to deportation) even one more of our talented and hard-working youth.”