Thursday, August 18, 2011

Downtown immigration protest message meant for Obama 1,000 miles away

In President Barack Obama’s adopted home town of Chicago, activists made a point Wednesday of expressing their outrage with the president’s willingness to give in to the conservative ideologues.

Those activists gathered outside of a downtown building where the Secure Communities Task Force was supposed to have a hearing. They tied up traffic by blocking the streets with their bodies and managing to draw attention to the opposition felt to what that task force is trying to do.

NOW IT WAS not likely a message that Obama would have seen personally. He was in Illinois for much of the day, finishing up the tail end of his three-day U.S. Midwest bus tour in the rural Illinois towns of Atkinson and Alpha.

But by the time this evening rush hour protest march took place, Obama was long gone from the state, headed back to Washington for the night. He’ll probably “read all about it” in whatever generic wire service news account he stumbles across on the Internet.

But Obama was the target of this event (How else to interpret the protester chants of “Yes, You Can,” a play on his campaign slogan from ’08 that implies he could do the right thing and stop the politically motivated deportations if he wanted to), which involved having protesters try to set up chains from post to post to disrupt people and automobile traffic flow. Then some insisted on sitting in the streets.

All of which resulted in Chicago police making about 40 arrests and getting involved in a scrap with one man – whom both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times report was being punched by the police officers.

NOW THE ISSUE at stake here is nothing new. Activists and others with an interest in the growing Latino population believe that Obama is so eager to try to gain some favor with the conservative ideologues (who are never going to warm up to him, no matter what he gives them) that he has allowed the number of deportations to escalate to record highs.

Those come about despite various directives that indicate that federal immigration officials are supposed to focus their attention on deporting only those people without a valid visa who have developed serious criminal records in this country.
OBAMA: Message meant for his ears

But some immigration officials seem to be eager to bolster the deportation rate rather than worrying about finding people who pose a threat to this nation (and only the most nit-witted of ideologues seriously believes that ALL of these people are a threat).

Which is why the activists chose to protest outside of this hearing of the task force, which was to hear evidence about how well federal initiatives are working in the Chicago area.

NOW, THEY HAVE forced some focus on their argument, which also gained some attention in recent weeks when Illinois state officials tried to drop state out of the Secure Communities program on the grounds that it was not providing the proper balance between immigration and any relevant national security issues.

Gov. Pat Quinn went so far as to issue a public statement saying that officials in his state would not cooperate with the federal officials in this program. A noble statement, to say the least. But federal officials took Quinn’s tough talk about as seriously as his so-called Democratic allies in the General Assembly.

Quinn’s talk is what led the federal officials to say that the previous agreement the state had with the U.S. government concerning the Secure Communities program was expired, and that they did not need the state’s permission to continue their efforts in Illinois – or any other state – as they decide to expand its initiatives.

Now I’m sure some people are going to try to dismiss Wednesday’s activity as irrelevant, or some sort of thuggish behavior – although I’d argue I have heard more hateful rhetoric come from Tea Party-type rallies I have attended throughout the past couple of years.

IN FACT, THIS gathering had several clergy members taking part – and it was those “men of God” who were among the people telling the newspapers how police were beating up on at least one person at the rally. It’s your call if you want to call a priest a liar!

But this was a rally meant less to sway the masses than to try to influence one man – the guy in the Oval Office who is taking his family on Thursday away from the District of Columbia for an extended weekend vacation to Martha’s Vineyard.

I wonder if Obama will give this activity any thought while enjoying one last chance to do something with his daughters this summer before they start another school year.


No comments: