(Photo: The White House)
Though President Barack Obama reached out to a number of Hispanic celebrities to discuss the broken immigration system on Thursday, one prominent Latino pastor is not happy with the actions, or lack thereof, that he’s been seeing over the last two years.
President Obama stated at the beginning of his presidential campaign that the immigration issue would be resolved with laws that would be just for all, Dr. Alberto Delgado, senior pastor of Alpha & Omega Church in Miami, Fla., pointed out to The Christian Post.
“But up to this point, he has not passed or pushed any laws through,” he lamented.
In an attempt to reassure Hispanic voters, Obama invited to the White House a dozen influential Hispanics, including actresses Eva Longoria, Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera, Telemundo anchor Jose Diaz-Balart, and Eddie “Piolin” Sotelo, among others.
According to a White House statement, during the meeting, Obama reiterated his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform both strengthens security at our borders while restoring accountability to the broken immigration system. He also expressed his “deep disappointment” that Congressional action on immigration reform has stalled and that the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act failed to pass in the U.S. Senate in December.
The DREAM Act would allow undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the country before they were 16 and have been living in the U.S. continuously for five years to be eligible for conditional non-immigrant status.
Obama made clear during the meeting that legislative action in Congress is the only way to fix the immigration system.
Diaz-Balart said Thursday's meeting was encouraging because the Hispanic community had not heard from Obama since he pledged to push for immigration reform during his presidential run.
Earlier this month, Obama met with leaders from the law enforcement, faith and business sectors to rally more support in the immigration debate.
Pastor Delgado emphasized that there is urgency for the immigration issue to be resolved. He highlighted that the division of families taking place across the country is “painful and immoral,” and said it is happening “especially with Hispanics.”
“The ones that are being persecuted are the Hispanics,” Delgado asserted, “although they say the laws are against undocumented immigrants.”
“It is obviously more difficult to stop someone on the street that is European looking with blue eyes who looks German or Polish, so they go after the Hispanics.”
The Miami pastor noted that “there are people who have been in U.S. for 20 or 30 years without legal status and who have children and now they are persecuted en masse, when this should have been addressed years ago.”
“Now their families are being divided,” he said. “These actions are separating families and bringing pain to many people thereby creating a situation of suffering and causing a strong hatred.”
This can be resolved with laws, he stressed.
Though Obama said immigration reform is essentially in the hands of Congress, some immigration reform advocates have argued that there other options available to Obama, such as an executive order or other unilateral steps to change the system.
But coming out of the meeting on Thursday, Diaz-Balart said, “The president and his administration told us that there are certain things that he cannot and will not do unilaterally,” according to The Associated Press.
Longoria added, “We like to blame Obama for the inaction, but he can’t just disobey the law that’s written.”
Concerning the future of immigrants, Delgado posed, “What happens to those that are here and have been here longer than their actual pursuers? They are being returned to countries they are no longer familiar with because they have been out of those countries for many years.”
“I do not believe that God blesses these actions,” the pastor asserted. “The Unites States of America needs to be cautious about what they are sowing in the area of immigration and this president along with the legislative powers need to do something now because more and more we see the inclination to persecute immigrants without legal migratory status.”
Supporters of a strict immigration policy that would step up enforcement criticized the president for not including conservative activists in the meeting on Thursday. They allege that the federal government is not doing enough to enforce the laws already on the books regarding illegal immigration.
Meanwhile, the Latino community feels slighted by Obama who promised during his presidential campaign that he would reform the immigration system in his first year in office. They still hope for more leniencies in immigration laws.
An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States.