Obama Backtracks on Progressive Civil Rights Chief
The New York Times calls out President Barack Obama for "flinching" in his choice to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
In January, Obama offered the job to well-respected civil rights lawyer Thomas Saenz of Los Angeles. Saenz had an impressive resume:
Mr. Saenz, the former top litigator in Los Angeles for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, ....was a leader of the successful fight to block California’s Proposition 187, an unconstitutional effort to deny social services and schooling to illegal immigrants. He has defended Latino day laborers who were targets of misguided local crackdowns, from illegal police stings to unconstitutional anti-solicitation ordinances.
What happened? [More...]
An editorial in Investor’s Business Daily slimed Mr. Saenz by calling him “an open-borders extremist” and said Maldef wanted to give California back to Mexico.
Apparently, Obama couldn't or wouldn't take the heat.
Mr. Saenz was ditched in favor of Maryland’s labor secretary, Thomas Perez, who has a solid record but is not as closely tied to immigrant rights.
Immigrants rights advocates are justly disappointed:
Immigrant advocates are stuck with the sinking feeling that Mr. Obama’s supposed enthusiasm for immigration reform will wilt under pressure and heat. Representative Luis Gutiérrez of Illinois, a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, found it sadly unsurprising that a lawyer could be rejected for the nation’s top civil-rights job because he had stood up for civil rights. “In what other position do you find that your life experience, your educational knowledge and commitment to an issue actually hurts you?” he asked.
And the $64 million dollar question: How is he going to fulfull his campaign promise of providing a path to citizenship for the 12 million undocumented residents among us if he kow-tows to the right wing extremists? As the Times says,
[Obama has] to confront and dismantle the core restrictionist argument: that being an illegal immigrant is an unpardonable crime, one that strips away fundamental protections and forgives all manner of indecent treatment.
The Constitution’s bedrock protections do not apply to just the native-born. The suffering that illegal immigrants endure — from raids to workplace exploitation to mistreatment in detention — is a civil-rights crisis. It cannot be left to fester while we wait for the big immigration bill that may or may not arrive under this president.
Mr. Saenz was a great choice. Too bad Obama caved in and didn't follow through with his nomination.
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