President Obama met with three Central American presidents at the White House Friday afternoon to address the influx of unaccompanied child migrants. According to The Hill, Obama claims to have come to agreement with El Salvador’s Salvador Sánchez Cerén, Honduras’ Juan Orlando Hernández, and Guatemala’s Otto Pérez Molina to “address poverty and violence” in order to stem the immigration tide. Meanwhile, the administration is still attempting to get Congress to approve a nearly $4 billion to increase detention facilities and to hire additional immigration judges to hasten the deportation of children, which seems unlikely to happen before lawmakers take off for vacation at the end of next week.
The White House has hosted several conversations and events about immigration–not just recently about child migrants, but also about the 11 million people who remain undocumented in Obama’s second term. But critics charge that the people most affected by the immigration system, the undocumented themselves, aren’t truly represented in Washington. In a sharp essay over at Latino Rebels, California Immigration Youth Justice Alliance member Hairo Cortes, addresses the issue, and calls for major non-profit immigrant rights advocates to boycott meetings at the White House until Obama discusses the issue with undocumented people.
With this clear history of unwillingness to lead by taking politically risky positions, and of siding with the political interests over working class immigrant communities, I call on America’s Voice, the National Council of la Raza, the National Immigration Forum, the Center for American Progress, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and all those other advocates who were unwilling to take a stand against deportations when it was most critical for them to do so, to step aside and boycott all further White House meetings until President Obama sits down with and negotiates with the undocumented immigrant day laborers, trans and queer organizers, parents, and youth who brought the proposal of Administrative Relief to the public consciousness when everyone said we should be quiet.
Mainstream advocates have long suggested that grassroots activists should quiet down about the administration’s record-setting deportation numbers and concentrate instead on putting pressure on the Republican Party to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill. Yet it’s been politically clear that the GOP won’t be moving on such a bill in an election year. In response to partisan blame, Cortes makes clear that his allegiance isn’t with the Democrats, but with his community.
You can read the essay, titled “Undocumented People Must Be at Negotiation Table to Achieve Substantive Relief,” in its entirety over at Latino Rebels