Tag Archives: obama

Today Obama meets with Brewer. Will leadership ensue?

By guest blogger, Elisabeth Lesser.

Today, Governor Jan Brewer will meet with President Obama regarding border security and Arizona’s SB 1070. This will be the first meeting between Governor Brewer and the President since the Governor signed SB 1070 into law in April, and the tone set tomorrow by the President will send a clear message about his priorities and agenda in the face of such blatant disregard for social justice and basic civil rights.

Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change, released the following statement regarding the meeting:

“We don’t expect much from a governor who’s clearly more interested in winning a primary election than she is in protecting her state. She’s firmly dug her partisan heels into the Arizona sand, and will only use the meeting with the President as a platform for even more political grandstanding.”

I’d like to add that there are plenty of good reasons why Governor Brewer doesn’t inspire confidence. She stands beside Sarah Palin in the ranks of smug, uber-conservative female politicians. Asked by CNN how she would respond if the Department of Justice attempted to challenge SB 1070, Brewer responded firmly:

“We’ll meet you in court… I have a pretty good record of winning in court.”

And even when confronted with proof that her reasons for enacting SB 1070, namely increased crime, are not true, she dismisses the facts and sticks to her misrepresentations.

Back to Bhargava’s statement:

“But from the President we do expect action. He should immediately cancel the 287 g and Secure Communities programs that opened the door to the racist, divisive law Brewer signed last month. By ending local law enforcement’s role in immigration law, the President will leave no doubt that immigration law is solely the federal government’s purview.  The President must also call for an immediate moratorium on deportations until comprehensive immigration is enacted, thus making a statement that hardworking men and women will not be separated from their families simply because Republicans have chosen to continue obstructing progress.”

Fortunately, the fight against the startlingly discriminatory Arizona law has been flooding national headlines. Yesterday, nonviolent civil disobedience in New York reached a pinnacle as 56 protesters were arrested, the latest in a campaign of civil disobedience that has led to the arrests of people in DC, LA, Chicago and Seattle. And in Los Angeles County, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to join the Arizona boycott. CCC pledged to join this boycott on May 6th, and you can learn more about why you too should join us here.

As we watch the immigration debate rekindle in full force and Arizona strips its residents of  adequate civil liberties, it is clear that the people of this country are up in arms, and that the federal government needs to act. Let’s hope the President has heard the united voices against SB 1070 and will finally deliver on his campaign promise to actively reform our nation’s broken immigration system, once and for all.

“No More Heroes”: Why America Must Stand Up


Today on the Huffington Post,  long-time community organizer Gabe Gonzalez writes about the historic moment we face as Americans. He cites our long tradition of creating American heroes that symbolize or catalyze social change and why, at this moment we need collective action, not heroes.

We should have a country that has no need for heroes. One in which you can get health care, save your home, work in peace. We have the ability to do this. Even in the midst of crises we remain the most powerful country on Earth.

I believe firmly that what this country needs, wants, and what it must have if we are to prosper again is a focus on community values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. That’s why I organize, and why I work so hard to get others to do the same. If there is one thing we saw clearly in the debate around the stimulus, it is that entrenched interests in both parties are the biggest obstacle in our path. And right now, with so much on the line, we need to ensure that they do not prevail.

We know from history, that for change to happen, we must have a bold president and an electorate willing to have his back. This is the only way to seize the opportunity presented by crises and act to change the fundamental structures that put us here.

Were we stand right now is with a President that has laid out a bold vision. But that cannot become real if we, those that chose him, are silent. We need to become active in ways that this country sees only once in a generation. We need to all act with consistency and determination to support an agenda that includes healthcare, immigration reform and fair banking laws. We cannot fail — even America cannot create enough heroes to save us from the repercussions of missing this opportunity. I believe our president has the capacity for greatness, but not if we let him stand alone. Mass public action is what this country needs most of all if we are going to create the change we so clearly demand.

As a country, we must work together (all of us) in order to overcome the crises and obstacles in our way. During times of turmoil, America has historically looked for a scapegoat (typically immigrants) and turned to the politics of divisiveness and finger-pointing to alleviate the fear and tension the country was facing. We must learn from our history and understand that, like MLK Jr. said “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly”.

I encourage you all to read Gabe Gonzalez’s full post here.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus Meets with Obama


This morning, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus sit down with President Obama for the first time in his new administration. Top priority on today’s agenda will be the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

From The Hill.com

CHC is eager to hear the president’s ideas and proposals for tackling immigration reform, not only regarding a comprehensive reform bill that could provide a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers but also as it relates to rolling back Bush administration policies of raiding workplaces and detaining and deporting thousands of illegal workers.

CHC members came away from a recent meeting in the Capitol with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano — a day after her Senate confirmation hearing — very encouraged that the workplace-raids policy would be fully reviewed and possibly altered.

Yet, CHC has expressed frustration that Obama has not yet gotten the message on how damaging the raids are to Hispanic communities across the country.

CHC has made the raids and their human cost the new focus of its immigration reform push, although a comprehensive reform bill remains very much a priority for the group, and one that it is encouraging Obama to push.

I will be sure to keep you posted on any news coming out of this meeting. It certainly feels like the demand for comprehensive reform is growing louder by the day. Let’s hope the administration hears us loud and clear.

Community Organizers, Bringing Change Straight to Washington

FIRM’s parent organization, the Center for Community Change is bringing the people’s agenda straight to the folks on Capitol Hill. Every week during Obama’s first 100 Days in office, we are bringing community organizers and leaders from across the country to make lobby visits and discuss important policies with lawmakers.


Today, the Washington Post featured an article on these visits and on the sea change that Community Organizers are not only witnessing, but CREATING in our country.

Organizers have borne their messages to Washington before, of course, but never quite like this. The effort started more than a year ago with a “community values” forum in Iowa attended by presidential candidates. Then came a meeting of 2,500 in Washington in December that drew incoming Obama administration officials: “I am here representing somebody who began his career as one of you,” senior adviser Valerie Jarrett told the group.

Now comes the 100-day strategy, in which during each of the first 14 weeks of the administration, 10 organizers from 10 groups from across the country make calls on the Hill. They craft their advocacy to fit with the news of the week.

This is truly a groundbreaking move for Community Organizers, who are seeing a place at the table under “Organizer in Chief” Obama.

“I don’t think anyone realizes how hard and fast this pendulum has swung back,” said Gabe Gonzalez, director of the center’s Campaign for Community Values. “President Obama, from our perspective, is a symptom, not a cause. There’s a fundamental shift in America.”

And it is this fundamental shift that is opening the door for policies that include people of color, poor people, women and immigrants. Community Organizers are working to ensure that those historically in the margins are a central part of the new America.