The problem is not just Trump, so why doesn’t national reform movement resource allocation demonstrate that our priority is the election of a pro-reform congress? The U.S. Constitution is very clear, if there are differences in the nation on policy, it is ultimately the responsibility of each of us to settle differences through elections. We are fighting for citizenship, so our commitment to democracy should be evident in the amount of time and resources we focus on vulnerable Congressional districts to make it impossible to elect an anti-immigrant majority. It’s not only immigration reform that is in jeopardy. Economic, education, environmental, faith, justice, labor, lgbt, minority, women and other issues that affect immigrant communities will be impacted by the immigrant vote in 2016.
Electoral engagement work should be prioritized in vulnerable districts to confront anti-immigrant incumbants, register church/org/business members, pledge friends and family to vote, and prepare for the greatest community group driven voter mobilization in reform movement history. The civil rights movement of the 60’s made electoral engagement the duty of all community leaders and institutions. The result is a Black community that educates and mobilizes itself to punish candidates who hurt their interests. They also are proof that a community united in educating and mobilizing itself can be almost impervious to the corruption of money and propaganda. All other progressive constituencies have a great deal to learn from Black community electoral engagement. Their efficacy and turnout should be the standard by which all community and cause leaders should be measured. If your group does not compare favorably to that standard then, for the sake of your community and cause, we must ask ourselves “how much worse must Regressives make things before we fight back with electoral power as the Black community does?”
There is too much focus on subsets of the 11 million with actions that don’t drive a narrative for equality through permanent comprehensive immigration reform for all. The catastrophic executive action push before the 2014 elections is an example of misdirecting attention to the executive branch and away from Congress when the priority needs to be electing a pro-reform majority. Our national reform movement concentrated it’s energy from Sept of 2013 to Aug of 2014 on blaming the Executive branch for deportations and asking for executive action that the courts have repeatedly indicated is unconstitutional.
When the executive action for Dreamers of 2012 (DACA) ended up in court, that Texas Southern District court judge told us that someone with standing “was likely to succeed” in a case against executive action. The case brought by ICE agents against DACA was dismissed, because the Congress took their right to sue away. However, it was dismissed without prejudice. Dismissing a case without prejudice is a clear indication that the court made a path for others with standing, like Congress or the states with the suit against DAPA, to overturn executive action. The Southern District Court of Texas also falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. 5th District Court of Appeals in Louisiana, so national leaders also had a warning that an appeal on executive action like DAPA would end up in these courts. No one has explained where in the opinions of Justices Kennedy or Roberts they indicate disagreement with the injunctions or thinking of the lower courts on the executive action. Why did national leaders waste scarce resources on executive action when the court told us what would happen?
It is not the Judiciary or the Executive who is responsible for deportations. The courts have made clear that all the responsibility for deportations is on the Congress and its laws. Blaming the Executive and focusing resources there made Latinos angry with the President, which dropped his approval ratings and the approval ratings of his party. The failure to focus our community on electoral engagement also disproportionately depressed our voting power. As the President was not up for election, the resources wasted on blaming the executive would have more wisely been used confronting candidates who oppose reform; with a priority given to vulnerable districts first. Even if punishing anti-immigrant candidates in vulnerable races had only resulted in keeping every elected official in place who supports #CIR, it would have been a historic defeat for anti-immigrant forces. The irony is that the same national leaders who wrongly attacked the first Black President left our communities vulnerable to the majority that won control of Congress in 2014 due to our electoral inaction. Immigrant communities have the electoral engagement of the Black community and the president they elected to thank for the vetos protecting our communities from the anti-immigrant bills of the new majority in Congress.
More than 10 of the 24 months between elections have passed. The national focus on DAPA, detention centers, or driver’s licenses are distracting us from the focus needed on Congress. Of course, we can use subsets of the problems caused by our corrupt immigration system to draw voter attention to reform obstruction by the local Congressional incumbent or candidate. However, if we fail to put media focus on elected officials doing wrong, then we are letting them hurt our community without consequence. All our civic/business/faith leaders have a duty to defend our communities from what anti-immigrant politicians are doing to us. If they don’t have the courage to help us take away the power elected officials use to hurt us, then who will?