Immigrants Need Good Deeds After Good Words

President Obama greets Speaker Boehner

State of Union address sets right tone, but deportations and Congressional rancor continue

1/26/2010 BOSTON— Last night in his annual Sate of the Union address, President Barack Obama addressed the vital issue of immigration reform in terms that were welcomed by immigrant advocates as frank, sensible, and timely.

"I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows," said Mr. Obama, making special note of the plight faced by the children of undocumented immigrants."They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet they live every day with the threat of deportation."

"We warmly welcome the president's words," said Eva Millona, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition."But we call on President Obama to start making sense of the system by revisiting some of his administration's own immigration enforcement policies. In particular, the implementation of the Secure Communities program as it stands threatens to undermine the trust that local law enforcement agencies work so hard to develop with foreign-born communities.

"Equally important," Millona continued, "Congress needs to take up the immigration issue in a new spirit of civil discourse. This afternoon, the new House immigration subcommittee meets for the first time. Congress cannot begin this vital work with the dismissive attitude exhibited by Representative Steve King after the president's speech."

A vocal member of the House Judiciary subcommittee on immigration, Representative King blithely dismissed the president's plea to address this nation's badly damaged immigration system, telling reporters after the speech, "I don't think we're going to get there."

"Representative King's attitude undermines the spirit of bipartisanship that this nation has demanded following the shootings in Arizona," Millona concluded. "It also deeply underestimates the urgency of our immigration crisis. Our families, communities and businesses deserve a government that works together to solve this nation's problems. As the new Congress sets forth today with its first immigration hearing, all Americans want, need, and deserve respectful cooperation and progress."