Immigration reform: President Obama at the bat

La reforma migratoria: El presidente Obama en el bate

The World Series of Politics is near as President Obama steps to the plate ready to face opposition regarding comprehensive immigration legislation. The country is the stadium but the world is the audience as nations will be glued to their television sets. Rain, snow, or hail will not stop this game.

Someone has asked which national anthem will be played. Those sitting in the grandstands may have to wait until the contest is over before this is answered. All of the tricks of the trade will be used during this spectacle and perhaps a few new ones might be invented. Obama can expect to be thrown a few curves, screw balls, drop balls and change ups. The best and the worst players in the American public policy process will be swinging away. There may be some switch hitters coming to the plate, undecided about whether to bat right handed or bat left-handed. Ambidexterity is not an option this time. The only umpires in this game are those who control the gavel and the pulpit.

The GOP realizes the tanning of América is happening with or without them. They have yet to heal from the shellacking they took in the last game. Latino voting power is on the upsurge, this force won’t stop. Latino Republicans are pandering Latino voters inviting them closer into the inner circles of the party.

What have changed since the last debate are the tempo and the structure of Congress. The GOP has slid down the totem pole with respect to numbers and political power, losing face with the Latino community. Essentially, those who were in charge before the season ended retired to the dugouts once the season ended. However, the time of the year has changed; with new hope for some but at the expense of pain for others.

I attended Senator Michael Bennett’s recent presentation at the 5th Sun Restaurant on Friday morning. After 4 years of painstaking impatience, La Raza may have its day of infamy. Border patrol agents, staunch Homeland Security enforcers, legislative policy wonks, inner-circle lobbyists and undocumented workers are at an intersection facing a moment of truth. They will either become happy faces or lamenters of a time in history when human beings were unable to recognize the pain of their brethren and continued the denial of human rights violations or they can be part of the creation of a more just world. When all is said and done, those who have invented the term “illegal aliens” and their adversaries may have to reinvent their nomenclature.

It was interesting to read in the policy brief presented by Senator Bennett that immigration policy will give red carpet treatment to the best, those with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math and pander to the worst, the most exploited, the agricultural workers whose back breaking labor is responsible for putting food on America’s tables. Such a dichotomous approach can be a benign attempt to find common ground but can also result in a malignant outcome.

Everyone is looking for the almighty grand slam. The game will include 4 major scorecards. Pathways to citizenship, probably with a few knuckleballs, for 11 million plus undocumented workers seem to be the crux of the matter. Tighter border security has always been on the agenda in order to curb the fears of the majority population. A rebranding of the welcome mat at home plate making it more inviting to new citizens is advisable. Stronger verification for the unemployed will be demanded; although, ironically sports figures have always been invited to play professional ball and provided with papeles as long as they produced. Fernando Valenzuela can attest to this. Corporations will continue to figure out ways to avoid costly fines. Lastly, a complete overhaul of the playing field will occur.

There are no auras of invincibility lurking in the forefront of this issue. Let’s hope there is not a no-hitter from the perspective of immigration proponents. It would take three strikes for this to happen. The first one has to do with the fence/wall between the two countries. No one has addressed this; perhaps, because it is already law, not totally completed and very costly at that. You know what fence I am talking about, the one that Jorge Ramos states “offers a false sense of security and control.” The home run hitters are wondering how far the fence will be once the game starts. Some ambitious rookie may try to smack one over the fence as youth wait on the other side to catch a memento.

Amnesty is the second strike; it won’t be mentioned. This has been completely left out of the current debates. Any courageous politician who opens up this Pandora’s may find his or her waiting papers at the end of the day. The third strike is halting deportation. A couple of realists emerged at Senator Michael Bennett’s briefing requesting that deportation numbers subside. Over 400,000 undocumented workers were deported under the Obama Administration, more than under Operation Wetback, a repatriation program with historical roots. Deportation will be held in abeyance, especially for those with criminal records. Let’s hope that new laws don’t further criminalize undocumented workers.

The game must go on.

Dr. Ramón Del Castillo is an Independent Journalist.

© 2013 Ramón Del Castillo

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