Ashley Moy-Wooten spent her own money and on her own time raced to the Iowa caucuses in 2008 to rally support for Barack Obama, then running against Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“We believed he was different,” Moy-Wooten, 31, said this week. “We were inspired.”
Additionally, Moy-Wooten helped the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights register 10,000 voters before that presidential election.
“Why did we do this?” an anguished Moy-Wooten, a senior organizer for the west suburban action group PASO, said Wednesday. “We believed we were going to get immigration reform. He said he would do it.”
Immigration reform advocates as well as despairing undocumented immigrants have been on a jagged ride since the 2008 election. It crashed to a new low last weekend when the White House announced the president would delay taking executive action on immigration until after the elections. In June he had promised to deliver by end of summer.
“It felt like I got smacked by cold water,” said Irma Hernandez, 43, an undocumented immigrant of Melrose Park who has served on non-partisan get-out-the-vote campaigns.
Disillusionment comes with fear that Obama will continue to postpone or give up altogether on executive action, the only hope for immigration reform given the failure by House Republicans to consider comprehensive reform passed by the Senate last year.
About the time Obama set the ill-advised deadline, there was an outcry over Central American migrant children flooding the border and mounting concerns by Democrats about keeping control of the Senate.
Instead of making that promise in June, Obama should have acted decisively, as he did in 2012 when he issued the deferred action order for childhood arrivals. There was no lasting outcry over that order because it made sense to the majority of the public, said Mary Giovagnoli, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Immigration Policy Center.
“While there may be ups and downs in public opinion, what’s constant is the need for some kind of relief,” she added.