Covering Washington politics. From our vantage point. One day a time.

Friday, June 15, 2012

President Obama Hosts Another Celebration for Latinos (and Gays)

Mending our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just.

President Barack Obama gave US workers a slap in the face today when he announced that illegal immigrants will be able to stay legally in America and find work.

Work, that for millions of Americans who are here legally, can't find.

This is the president's latest gift to the Latina community.

Throughout his presidency he has consistently pandered to the demands Latinas.  He's spoken at several events featuring Latinos such as the Forum On American Latino Heritage, and the Congressio​nal Hispanic Caucus Institute 34th Annual Awards Gala.

Speaking in July of 2011 to the National Council of La Raza the president made remarks about having many Latinos working in his Cabinet. 

"Right off the bat, I should thank you because I have poached quite a few of your alumni to work in my administration.  They're all doing outstanding work.  Raul Yzaguirre, my ambassador to the Dominican Republic: Latinos serving at every level of my administration.  We've got young people right out of college in the White House.  We've got the first Latina Cabinet Secretary in history, Hilda Solis.  So we couldn't be prouder of the work that so many folks who've been engaged with La Raza before, the handiwork that they're doing with our administration.  And ... we're extraordinarily proud of someone who is doing outstanding work on the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor."

Has the first African American U.S. president ever lauded the number of African Americans working in his Administration?

With every Medal of Honor, with every Medal of Freedom, President Obama has at least one Latina in the mix. On next Friday (June 22, 2012) the president will give remarks at the The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ Annual Conference.

His latest effort in acknowledging the Latina community?

"Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children,  do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization."

The work that Latinos do in America, some have argued, are jobs some Americans may not be doing, or want to do, such as food and lawn service. However, more Latinos are working in the area of construction and home building than ever before.  African American farmers were phased out of the farming industry by not being able to get farm subsidies, loans and grants due to unfair business practices of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) over the past four decades.

Today African American owned construction companies are seeing less opportunities in the construction business due to companies hiring Latino workers.

Yet the president thinks "it is the right thing to do" to afford illegal immigrants an opportunity.

Fairness for all, right?.

"As I said in my speech on the economy yesterday", said Obama, it makes no sense to expel talented young people, who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans -- they’ve been raised as Americans; understand themselves to be part of this country -- to expel these young people who want to staff our labs, or start new businesses, or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents -- or because of the inaction of politicians."

We have seen this president speak, on a national stage, about the issues that plague the Latino community.  The Dream Act is one of those issues.

Said the president, "And I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away."

African Americans are waiting for him to do the same, "right away".   African Americans need jobs "right away".  African Americans need the racist New York City practice of Stop and Frisk to be abolished "right away".  African Americans need to have Florida's Stand Your Ground Law that allows young African American men and women to be killed on the spot abolished "right away".

While the president strives to "mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just", policies currently in place that negatively affect the African American community need severe mending.  Yet those items are never placed on a national stage for discussion by the president.

Courting the gay community.
The gay community received the support of the president, on a national level, when he announced his support of gay marriage.

"I believe gay couples should be able to get married." 

Those remarks have the country at odds between civil rights groups and the clergy.

Tonight, the president spoke at a reception celebrating June Gay Pride month where he said the following:

"Now, each June since I took office, we have gathered to pay tribute to the generations of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who devoted their lives to our most basic of ideals –equality not just for some, but for all.  Together we’ve marked major milestones like the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when a group of brave citizens held their ground against brutal discrimination.  Together, we’ve honored courageous pioneers who, decades ago, came out and spoke out; who challenged unjust laws and destructive prejudices.  Together, we’ve stood resolute; unwavering in our commitment to advance this movement and to build a more perfect union. Now, I’ve said before that I would never counsel patience; that it wasn’t right to tell you to be patient any more than it was right for others to tell women to be patient a century ago, or African Americans to be patient a half century ago. 

After decades of inaction and indifference, you have every reason and right to push, loudly and forcefully, for equality. But three years ago, I also promised you this: I said that even if it took more time than we would like, we would see progress, we would see success, we would see real and lasting change.  And together, that’s what we’re witnessing. For every person who lost a loved one at the hand of hate, we ended a decade of delay and finally made the Matthew Shepard Act the land of the law.  For every person with HIV who was treated like an outcast, we lifted the HIV entry ban.  And because of that important step, next month, for the first time in more than two decades, the International AIDS conference will be held right here in the United States.  For every American diagnosed with HIV who couldn’t get access to treatment, we put forward a National HIV/AIDS strategy -- because who you are should never affect whether you get life-extending care. 

Marjorie Hill, the head of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, is here.  GMHC has saved so many lives, and this year they are celebrating their 30th anniversary.  So I want to give them and all these organizations who work to prevent and treat HIV a big round of applause.  Give it up for Marjorie and everybody else.  For every partner or spouse denied the chance to comfort a loved one in the hospital, to be by their side at their greatest hour of need, we said, enough.  Hospitals that accept Medicare or Medicaid – and that is most of them -– now have to treat LGBT patients just like any other patient.  For every American denied insurance just for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, we passed health insurance reform, which will ban that kind of discrimination.

We’ve expanded benefits for same-sex partners of federal employees, prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity for workers in the federal government. We’ve supported efforts in Congress to end the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.  And as we wait for that law to be cast aside, we’ve stopped defending its constitutionality in the courts.  We’ve put forward a strategy to promote and protect the rights of LGBT communities all over the world, because, as Secretary Clinton said back in December, gay rights are human rights.  And, of course, last year we finally put an end to “don’t ask, don’t tell” so that nobody would ever have to ever again hide who they love in order to serve the country they love.  And I know we've got some military members who are here today.  

I'm happy to see you with your partners here.  We thank you for your service.  We thank your families for their service, and we share your joy at being able to come with your spouses or partners here to the White House with your Commander-in-Chief.  Now, we know we've got more to do.  Americans may feel more comfortable bringing their partners to the office barbecue but we're still waiting for a fully inclusive employment non-discrimination act.   Congress needs to pass that legislation, so that no American is ever fired simply for being gay or transgender.
Americans may be able serve openly in the military, but many are still growing up alone and afraid; picked on, pushed around for being different.  And that’s why my administration has worked to raise awareness about bullying.  And I know -- I just had a chance to see Lee Hirsch, the director of BULLY, who is here.  And we thank him for his work on this issue.  I want to acknowledge all the young leaders here today who are making such a big difference in their classrooms and in their communities.  And Americans may be still evolving when it comes to marriage equality but as I've indicated personally, Michelle and I have made up our minds on this issue. 

So we still have a long way to go, but we will get there.  We'll get there because of all of you.  We’ll get there because of all of the ordinary Americans who every day show extraordinary courage.  We’ll get there because of every man and woman and activist and ally who is moving us forward by the force of their moral arguments, but more importantly, by the force of their example.

And as long as I have the privilege of being your President, I promise you, you won't just have a friend in the White House, you will have a fellow advocate  for an America where no matter what you look like or where you come from or who you love, you can dream big dreams and dream as openly as you want."

Needless to say, the president received a rousing applause before, during and after his remarks.

It's a campaign year.  It's re-election year.  We find that every group is included, and their issues are taken into consideration, and addressed on a national stage, except for African Americans.

Does the president feel he has the support of African Americans in this year's re-election, because he is African American?
I'd like to, for once, see the president come out of the Oval Office into the Rose Garden and speak directly to the media on an issue, any issue, that affects African Americans - directly. I'd like him to speak on issues concerning the poor.    I'd like also for him to address homelessness, especially since its so prevalent right here in the Nation's Capital, and a mere stone's through away from where he lives.

Latinos, gays, Muslims, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, military, women, will all have to be placed on the back burner.

The issue of the 21st century in America, yet to be addressed by the current Administration, is the issue of color.  And this needs to be addressed, "effective immediately".

It is the right thing to do.

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