Almost 5 years ago, Vice President Joe Biden met with a small crowd of Hispanic activists. A professional politician, he knew very well that Hillary Clinton would have a lot of trouble getting the Latino vote.
The perception of their arrogance, plus the cartloads of digital manure with which an army of Russian hackers worked to inhibit the political participation of minorities, opened the door to a much bigger problem: the condition of Barack Hussein Obama, the great global leader, a genius in the art of staying on “the right side of history” as America’s “Deporter-in-Chief”.
A hurtful qualifier, because it came from an emblematic social fighter of the Hispanic community and, above all, because it was a great truth.
An exceptionally talented politician, Obama never really committed himself to the cause of immigrants. Not even when at the beginning of the century, occupying a seat in the Illinois Senate, the Mexican community of Chicago led massive mobilizations in demand for the immigration reform that compadres Bush and Fox had announced as imminent.
With his extraordinary political flair, Obama preferred to ride the wave of repudiation of the just wars against the wrong enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan, taking care to build real commitments to the cause of the little more than 10 million people, most of them originating from Latin America, whom for decades had earned, with a lot of work, a place in the great nation of inclusion and opportunity.
The fact is that, out of conviction or convenience, during its 8 years in the White House the Obama Administration never invested the necessary political capital to carry out the comprehensive reform that even a large part of the Republican establishment was willing to support.
“You are already Americans,” Vice President Biden told those who accompanied him at that meeting in Baltimore frankly.
In a rather washed-out spanish, already as the representative of an administration that was coming to an end, Biden recognized the obvious: the vast majority of the undocumented have already demonstrated their great contributions to the country. It is very clear that they comply with the laws even more than the rest of the population. They are neighbors, partners, workers who contribute much more than they receive. They are parents and grandparents of the most dynamic demographic in the American economy.
The vice president’s words had little echo then.
Today everything must change. It is true that there are those who are surprised by the relatively high Latino electoral support that the apprentice tyrant was able to obtain in the last elections, never above the 37 percent obtained by Bush Jr. in 2000 and 2004. But for those who understand, they know the multiple identities that have been labeled here as the “bad men” or Mexicans, it is perfectly understandable the fatigue –sometimes fed up- with which these communities receive the promises of professional politicians, especially those on the Democratic side.
For all these reasons, as he openly promised very shortly before Election Day, Biden cannot, and should not, afford to continue postponing his commitment to promote and carry forward the reform that recognizes the great economic value of Hispanic workers, their loyalty and commitment to the country for which they themselves chose and, above all, with the necessary reconciliation with the values of inclusion and opportunities for all that they claim to represent.
By the way, President Biden promised that he would achieve it within the first 100 days of his administration, and, of course, our community is counting.