Note: A demographic critical to our issues, now and even more in the
Arizona Latino leaders, White House officials meet
by Daniel González - Jan. 28, 2012 09:21 PM
The Republic | azcentral.com
A White House meeting in Phoenix on Saturday with local Latino
leaders to discuss a wide range of issues ended up being dominated by
concerns over President Barack Obama's immigration policies.
The daylong meeting was intended to give local Latino leaders the
chance to discuss issues such as jobs, health care and education with
senior White House officials. But many of the people who showed up
came to vent their frustration with the president's failure to pass
immigration reform and the record number of deportations that have
taken place since Obama took office three years ago.
The meeting, one of more than two dozen Hispanic summits the White
House is holding in cities across the country, highlights the
challenges Obama will have courting politically important Latino
voters in the November presidential election.
Latinos played a key role in Obama's election in 2008, in part
because Obama promised to swiftly pass immigration reforms that would
have provided a path to citizenship for millions of illegal
immigrants, the majority of whom come from Mexico and other Latin
But getting Latinos to vote for him for re-election in November may
be more difficult.
"Our vote cannot be taken for granted, and yes he is going to have a
difficult time getting the Latino vote, because he has deported more
than 1 million people since he has been in office. That (has resulted
in) record-breaking deportations and separation of families," said
Dulce Matuz, 27, of Phoenix, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico.
Matuz, who graduated from Arizona State University in 2009 with an
engineering degree, is one of many people who attended the meeting to
advocate for the Dream Act, legislation that would allow some illegal
immigrants brought to this country as minors to gain legal status if
they attend college or serve in the military.
The Obama administration sent more than a dozen senior officials
representing several federal agencies, including the Department of
Homeland Security, the Labor Department, Health and Human Services,
and the Environmental Protection Agency, to meet with local Latino
Saturday's meeting came three days after Obama visited Intel Corp. in
Chandler to tout an economic-recovery and job-creation plan unveiled
during his State of the Union address.
Saturday's meeting, held at ASU's downtown Phoenix campus, drew about
300 educators, business people and community leaders.
Participants broke up into groups to discuss issues after being given
the opportunity to set their own agenda.
The more than two dozen sessions covered job creation, mortgage
fraud, educational attainment, health care, social media and many
other issues, but the ones that drew the most people centered on
At one session, Chris Jones, the principal at Central High School in
Phoenix, recounted how the undocumented brother of one of his
students was placed on a bus by immigration officials and dropped off
at the border in Nogales.
The brother had been supporting the family, Jones said.
"That is not the America I want," Jones told White House officials.
During the same session, Alejandra Chacon, 21, a Phoenix resident who
is studying business at ASU, told White House officials that her
parents in Mexico have been waiting 15 years for green cards to come
to the United States legally.
White House officials told participants that Obama pushed hard to
pass immigration reform and the Dream Act, and he remains committed
to trying to pass reforms in the future.
Julie Chavez Rodriguez, a White House official, also said the Obama
administration has recently made several changes in its deportation
policy that focus more attention on deporting criminals as opposed to
students and illegal immigrants who otherwise have not committed
crimes and have long ties to this country.
But Matuz, the undocumented ASU graduate, said the policy changes
have not made her any less afraid of being deported.
She also questioned the timing.
"What I find ironic is that these policy changes come at a time when
he is running his campaign for re-election. Why didn't he do these
policy changes back in 2008?" she said.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/community/phoenix/articles/