With the November elections only weeks away, many people have given up on expecting any kind of immigration reform from either Congress or the president. However, others are putting their names to paper by signing a petition asking President Obama to reveal his plans for immigration changes. While it is doubtful that these petitions will change the president's plans in this short time before the elections, it highlights the growing demand for immigration reform action.
Even advocate for immigration reform, Arizona Republican John McCain appears to have given up on a comprehensive immigration plan. Indeed most of the republican party has shifted focus away from talk of immigration reform, hunkering down with generalized promises to secure the border, in preparing for the coming November elections.
Many are concerned that the Republicans' increasing anti-immigrant sentiment is further alienating Latino voters. Even President Obama has argued that Republicans are committing political “suicide” by not passing comprehensive immigration reform. The president said that many Republicans were coming around on the idea of immigration reform, but that too many remained beholden to the far-right of the party.
Of course, President Obama has faced his share of criticism for his lack of action, and regularly pushed back delays on taking executive action on immigration. Initially promising immigration reform by the end of summer, the president has now vowed to take action after the November elections, which may not actually come before 2015. Many Latino-rights groups have blamed the president for putting politics ahead of people. Democrats have worried that major immigration action would hurt them in the upcoming elections.
A conservative group called Let Freedom Ring has recently responded to the president's lack of immigration clarity by gather signatures for an online petition aimed at getting President Obama to reveal his plans for immigration prior to the elections. Colin Hanna, president of Let Freedom Ring, argues that the administration's move, “betrays a kind of contempt for the American voter that really needs to be recognized.”
The list of “not-to-do” items has continued to grow. Aside from immigration reform, the president has also tabled finding a replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder, and pushed back the health care enrollment period. Aides have said they did not want these divisive issues, including immigration policy overhaul, to result in Democratic losses in Congress.
Republicans have argued that the White House and Democrats are trying to hide unpopular policies from voters. But even supporters of the president are worried that the delays are frustrating many of Obama's allies, including Latino voters.
However, in one of the hotly contested Senate races, the Republican candidate is actually favored by Hispanic voters. In Colorado, Republican hopeful Representative Cory Garner is leading among Hispanic voters 49 percent to 35 percent over Democratic Senator Mark Udall. This lead comes in spite of Gardner's opposition of immigration reform. Colorado's Hispanic population now accounts for about 21 percent of that state's residents.
The issue of immigration reform is a prickly topic for many, which accounts for many politicians steering clear of giving substantive responses on the issue. We are not likely to see any action from the president on immigration before the end of the year. Requests from the public, including online petitions, show the frustration many feel with the lack of action from Washington; however they are not likely to have any real results on the ground.