Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Guest Blog by Jennifer Yanni: End the Secure Communities Program

As Kevin Johnson noted yesterday, President Obama called for comprehensive immigration reform and the passage of the DREAM Act in his State of the Union address. Yet, his administration continues to implement the Secure Communities program that detrimentally affects hard-working individuals and families who would benefit from CIR and the DREAM Act. There's definitely some hypocrisy there.

Guest blog from  Jennifer Yanni, Third-year student at UCLA School of Law

Dear Mr. President,

Mr. President. What an impersonal name. It bears no indication of the person you are.

Barack Hussein Obama. Now that’s more like it. That tells me volumes about who you are. It tells me that you are the son of immigrants. It tells me that you are a male who sounds – and perhaps even looks – racially ambiguous.

I’ve heard your stories many times. I’ve heard how you grew up not knowing your father. I know that you’ve told millions of Americans that you were raised by a single mother. What was it like to grow up without a parent? Was it excruciating? Was it terrible to think that you grew up in a broken family and there was nothing that you did to cause it? Was it remotely like how millions of children feel when their parents are deported in the dead of night? Of course not. Your experience must have been fundamentally different.

I’ve heard that you were schooled in Indonesia. Are you Indonesian? No? So, you were an immigrant for much of your life. How did that make you feel? Did you feel marginalized? Did you feel like a second-class citizen? Did you feel like you never belonged? Of course you didn’t! If you had, you would’ve understood what it feels like to be an immigrant in this country. You would’ve realized that immigration policies only create strangers out of neighbors, parents, and friends.

I’ve heard you mention that you married a “sister.” A woman who, in every respect, embodies what a strong, intelligent, Black woman ought to be. I admire your persistence to stay within your community. I can tell that it has been your way of maintaining a fundamental connection to the Black community. But, what is it about such a close-knit group of people that you find to be so salient? How is it any different from the immigrants who find themselves within their own communities, realizing that though they may not be able to identify with many others, they can identify with each other.  But, of course. Your community must have been irreconcilably different.

I’ve heard that your middle name is Hussein. Wasn’t that also the name of Muhammed’s grandson? That’s interesting. You share a name with one of the founders of a religion that so many Americans have come to associate with hate and death. How did you overcome that? By failing to include it on statements? By claiming that you were, first and foremost, a loyal American? And that worked? I wonder if you’d feel the same way if one of the 9/11 terrorists were named Hussein. But, of course, none of them must have been. After all, the Hussein’s of the world are coming in through the U.S.-Mexico border. That must be the reason why border enforcement has become so fierce and unforgiving. While your name may have set you apart, you must have never felt different.

I’ve heard you mention that your daughters will never benefit from affirmative action. I’ve heard you claim that no one would ever think them to be anything other than privileged. So, who is unprivileged? Could it possibly be the millions of undocumented individuals in the nation who fulfill menial, low-paying jobs because they’re not found to be deserving of anything greater? Could it be the people who are doomed to a perpetual cycle of hardship and injustice? Surely, your daughters will never know such people. Why would they? Those people are fundamentally different.

Barack Hussein Obama, who are you? For years you’ve told Americans that you were anything they wanted you to be: black, transcending race, educated, the son of hardworking parents, privileged, an underdog. You name it, you’ve been it. You’ve blinded us with your rhetoric and sweet-talked us with your empty promises. You’ve done everything you can to make us think that you were everyman’s man. Your appeal to uniqueness and your claims to be different have been nothing but lies. Barack Hussein Obama, if you truly are the man you claim to be, I challenge you to use those differences in your re-election. Use your past to decide the future of so many undocumented immigrants. Be the man that we, who elected you, believed you to be. Put an end to the injustices of immigration policies. Put an end to border patrols treating migrants as wayward dogs to be shot at. Put an end to S-Comm and the way in which it breaks up families and communities.

You owe it to yourself, but, first and foremost, you owe it to us.


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