Biden Cool to Legalization in ’09
by Frontera NorteSur
Posted on April 1, 2009
On a visit to Costa Rica this week, US Vice-President Joe Biden expressed reluctance to the idea of legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants in the United States this year. Speaking to reporters, Vice-President Biden said the economic crisis and rising unemployment make 2009 an inopportune year for a comprehensive immigration reform that would benefit undocumented residents.
“It’s hard to tell the voters, when unemployment is increasing, when they are losing their jobs and homes, that what we should do is legalize foreigners and stop deportations,” said the US’ second highest official.
Approving a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants was a campaign pledge of the Obama-Biden ticket last year. Many analysts credit the important Latino vote for helping the Democrats win the race, due in part to the candidates’ position on immigration reform.
The Vice-President’s remarks are the latest signal from the Obama administration that prospects for a speedy immigration reform are not on the immediate political agenda. Nonetheless, some media reports suggest the Department of Homeland Security will shift its focus in immigration law enforcement away from the mass raids and deportations that characterized the last two years of the Bush White House to an approach that concentrates on cracking-down on employers of undocumented immigrants.
Despite the adverse economic climate, pro-immigrant activists are intensifying their activism. Catholic and Protestant leaders have been speaking out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform, while the Hispanic Congressional Caucus has been touring the country and listening to the personal stories of immigrants in El Paso and other cities.
In an upcoming activity, the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights plans to meet with members of Congress during the April 4-19 recess to press for demilitarizing immigration and border controls, suspending raids and deportations and restoring the rights of immigrants. The group also calls for an official investigation of what it contends are “widespread abuses and rights violations taking place in immigration law enforcement, including border control, detention centers and jails and deportations.”
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Additional sources: Univision, March 31, 2009. La Jornada/Reuters, March 30, 2009. Nnir.org.
Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico
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