It’s not the first time a White House meeting on immigration reform has been postponed under President Barack Obama. On Monday, it happened again when Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham could not get from South Carolina to Washington to meet the president and Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer to discuss the reform bill the two legislators have been crafting.
Grassroots advocates pushing for immigration reform wasted no time, however, lambasting Obama for the delay in approaching the subject and for the continuation of harsh immigration enforcement policies during his administration.
The Roll reported Monday afternoon Graham would not make it to D.C. because his flight had been cancelled. “The meeting will be rescheduled,” Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop said in a statement, according to the newspaper.
Lingering doubts on Obama’s real commitment to the issue notwithstanding, the last thing the president’s relation with Hispanic and pro-immigration reform advocates needed was an unexpected delay of this sort. This was made clear by a group of grassroots leaders at a press conference in Washington.
“Our community is angry. Our members feel betrayed,” said Brent Wilkes, of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), according to The Washington Post. (Politics Daily columnist Patricia Murphy remembered Tuesday that it was in front of a LULAC meeting that candidate Obama had promised to be “a president who isn’t going to walk away from something as important as comprehensive immigration reform when it becomes politically unpopular.”)
The advocates criticized Obama for not improving the lot of undocumented immigrants who had faced increased persecution under the Bush administration. They said that, on any given day under Obama, over 32,000 immigrants are under detention across the country, according to a New America Media report by Marcelo Ballvé.
The advocates said they felt betrayed by an Obama administration that promised to take their concerns into account and then became more aggressive than its predecessor in cracking down on immigrants.
The total of deportations during Obama’s first year in office –387,790– has greatly surpassed the number during George W. Bush’s last year in the White House –264,503–, the activists said, according to wire service AFP.
While Obama couldn’t discuss the reform bill with Schumer and Graham, The Wall Street Journal got ahold of the New York senator and revealed Tuesday that the plan includes a new national identity card with biometric information that would become mandatory for all U.S. workers, immigrant and native-born.
In an interview with the paper, Schumer said the idea was the solution to fears that a massive legalization of undocumented workers would only bring a new wave of unauthorized migrants to the U.S.