We heard it straight from the president's mouth. Our country is going through the toughest of economic times. However, as he said in his first address to the nation in a joint session of Congress, "We will rebuild, we will recover."
It was important for President Barack Obama to attempt to restore confidence in our economy and promote his stimulus package. But in his summary of the ills that are affecting this country, the one issue that was missing was immigration.
It's that touchy issue that won't go away. It's difficult to confront, especially when the country is divided between those who would like to see immigrants on a path to citizenship and those who want all undocumented workers deported.
The fact is that the immigration system in the United States is still as broken as it was when the electoral process began. At one point, it seemed as if it would be "the" campaign issue that would decide the 2008 election. Until the economy took a dramatic turn for the worse.
Obama's position on immigration has been pretty consistent. He voted in favor of building a wall that would provide border security, but has also supported and continues to support the idea of comprehensive immigration reform. However, now that the new administration is in place, we are getting mixed signals as to how the government will proceed with immigration.
In a recent interview with the popular Spanish-language radio host Piolín, Obama reiterated his commitment to form a task force on immigration reform. Yet a few days later, immigration agents conducted the first workplace raid since Obama took office. According to reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents stormed an engine manufacturing plant in Bellingham, Wash., and arrested dozens of people, mostly from Mexico and Central America, on suspicion that they were in the country illegally.
"Immigration raids targeting non- criminal, undocumented workers will not fix our broken immigration system and they will not make our country safer," said the pro-immigration reform group America's Voice in a press release shortly after the raid.
On Feb. 13, the Department of Homeland Security released a report indicating that among the more than 2 million immigrants deported between 1998 and 2007, 100,000 were parents of children who were U.S. citizens. ICE is reviewing whether to establish procedures to determine if immigrants detained in raids have children under 18 years of age who are U.S. citizens.
Obama has emphasized the importance of dealing with the economy and housing crisis before addressing the immigration issue, and that is understandable. He has been hesitant to give an executive order putting a moratorium on the raids. But it is time the administration's actions were more in tune with the intended goodwill toward immigrants in our country and with its commitment to fix our broken immigration system.