OBAMA ON THE BORDER: Among immigration advocates, reactions to President Obama’s May 10 speech in El Paso, Texas, could be summed up by a headline in New York’s El Diario: Nice Speech, Now Show Real Commitment. With a president who has overseen record deportations and broadened the Secure Communities program, which teams ICE agents with local law enforcement, striking fear in the hearts of many immigrant communities, Latinos have reason to be skeptical as Obama solicits their support for 2012.
The president retains support among Latinos, thanks in part to a Republican opposition that has embraced policies that are flagrantly bigoted by comparison. Obama won laughter when he suggested that the GOP will be dissatisfied no matter what he does to secure the border, joking, “Maybe they’ll need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat.” But favorably contrasting himself with a party that has an increasingly anti-immigrant platform isn’t enough.
Obama deserves praise for urging passage of the DREAM Act, a bill reintroduced the day after his speech by Senator Richard Durbin and thirty-one co-sponsors. “We should stop punishing innocent young people for the actions of their parents. We should stop denying them the chance to earn an education or serve in the military,” Obama said. Such young people will seek to hold him accountable to his words. After the speech, wrote journalist Roberto Lovato, “hundreds of DREAM Act students and their families converged on an Obama fundraiser in Austin to demand he stop deporting DREAM Act students immediately. Liliana Segura
TALKING TORY BLUES: Held the same day as local elections, the May 5 referendum on changing Britain’s voting system was sup-posed to be Nick Clegg’s prize for taking his Liberal Democrats into coalition with the Conservatives. Instead it became a referendum on Clegg and his party, which crashed in spectacular flames, losing half its English council seats and scuppering electoral reform for years to come, while the Tories emerged from the wreckage startlingly unscathed. Ever since they broke their promise to scrap university tuition fees (voting instead for a Tory plan for a 300 percent increase), the Lib Dems have become the nation’s punching bag, taking the rap for Tory budget cuts just as Prime Minister David Cameron clearly hoped they would.
Labour picked up most of the Lib Dems’ dropped seats in England but made no dent in the Tory vote—and suffered its own devastating defeat in Scotland. A historic victory in Labour’s former citadel for the left-leaning Scottish National Party—whose leader, Alex Salmond, vowed “the rocks will melt in the sun” before he’ll impose tuition fees—will likely mean a referendum on Scottish independence. If Salmond takes Scotland out of the union, the Tories will have a huge majority in what’s left of Britain. A vote meant to empower Britain’s left-of-center majority could now see the left shut out of Westminster for decades.