By Maegan E. Ortiz
President Barack Obama's recent announcement that he is delaying taking executive action on immigration shouldn't come as a surprise.
"Wait and see" has been the message the administration and the Democratic Party have given immigration advocates, activists and Latinos since we helped first elect Obama in 2008.
In 2010, undocumented people who came to the United States as children, commonly known as dreamers, were told to wait and see what would happen with comprehensive immigration reform before the Obama administration and the Democrats would support the DREAM Act as a stand-alone bill.
When that failed in the U.S. Senate, they had to wait two more years for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama program granting them temporary legal status.
In 2011, then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Morton released a memo saying that prosecutorial discretion should be used in determining who got deported and that the priority would be criminals.
Studies of those who have been deported since the release of the so-called Morton Memo reveal that prosecutorial discretion has rarely been applied.
When the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill passed last summer by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight," again people were told to wait.
The Obama administration shifted blame to the Republican Party even while detaining and deporting people at record-breaking levels and expanding punitive programs like Secure Communities. The administration also told people that Obama couldn't take executive action, claiming that Congress had to take the lead.
With the Senate bill stalled, Obama changed his tune when he announced on June 30 that he would go it alone by the end of the summer and take executive action.
There was much speculation about what this action would look like.
One possibility was expanding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to others, allowing millions to legally work and study without fear of being detained and deported.
But again families are being told to wait, this time in the name of protecting Democrats running in the upcoming midterm elections in November.
The administration fears that Democrats will lose control of the Senate if they alienate conservative white voters. But in the process, the Democrats may have lost one of their largest electoral bases: the Latino community.
While Obama and the Democrats are failing to show political will and courage, again Latinos and the immigration community are being told to avert their eyes and point fingers at the GOP with a vague promise that something good might happen after the elections.
But immigrant communities cannot afford to wait any longer. Between now and the midterms, between 60,000 to 100,000 undocumented immigrants could be deported if the current rate holds steady.
The president does have the power to help protect immigrant families across the country. That he has chosen not to use it reflects poorly upon him and the Democratic Party.
progressive media project/McClatchy-Tribune