By Kate Segal
In the United States of America, a homophobic, climate-change denier who thinks that the government “creat[es] dependency, destroy[s] individual responsibility” and that in “the last 15 years, there has been no recorded [global] warming,” just became the first candidate for the 2016 presidential election. If this is the type of leader our country has to look forward to, it is a scary time to be anyone except a wealthy, heterosexual, white man.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whose Cuban background does little to mask his xenophobia, also has a track record of staunchly opposing immigration reform and amnesty. So when President Obama passed the Immigration Accountability Executive Action in November 2014, which he claims would enable up to 5 million immigrants living in the U.S. to obtain temporary legal status and work permits, the state of Texas led the charge to block it. On February 16, 2015, Texas judge Andrew Hanen issued a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of the executive action after a coalition of 26 states alleged that Obama had gone beyond the scope of his powers. The move prolongs the serious exclusion from the country’s social and economic fabric that noncitizens contend with every day. Senator Cruz called it a “HUGE victory for rule of law.”
As an activist with several years of professional and academic focus on migrants’ rights in the U.S., the GOP’s anti-immigration stance comes as no surprise. But before laying blame solely on the GOP for the country’s state of immigration, let’s take a look at the Obama administration’s track record. It has deported more non-U.S. citizens than any of its predecessors, with the number of deportations steadily increasing over the past few years. Over 438,000 non-citizens were deported in 2013, up from 418,397 deportations in 2012 and 387,134 in 2011. Though President Obama says that any immigration reform should focus on “stopping the people at the borders, reinforcing our effectiveness there, going after criminals and felons who are in our midst,” fewer than half of those deported in 2013 had prior criminal convictions. While President Obama paints pictures of the “striving young student” or the “hard-working mom … snatched from her child,” he glosses over the ramp-up of detentions and deportations of these very people on his watch.