Tens of thousands of protesters, young and old, descended on the National Mall in Washington DC to demand that the government get moving with regards to comprehensive immigration reform. Ever since President Obama promised to make sweeping immigration reform a major goal during his first year in office, supporters of the process have been waiting for something, anything, to indicate that he was making good on his pledge.
Unfortunately, in his first year of office, Obama had a lot to more to handle than anticipated during the election. From the collapse of the financial and banking systems to healthcare reform, the President seemed to simply have too much on his plate to address immigration. So on Sunday, March 21st, thousands traveled to DC to remind the President of his promise. Obama tried to reassure those in attendance with a video message, projected on giant screens all around the National Mall, in which he restated his pledge to reform the ''broken immigration system" and pointed to families being torn apart and certain employers who "game the system" as key issues to be addressed.
''I understand it may not all be his [Obama's] fault,'' Manuel Bettran, a 21-year-old college student from Chicago, told the NY Times. ''I am frustrated. I really wish not just him, but everybody, would take it more seriously. ''
One of the core ideas already causing a ruckus across partisan lines is the issue of whether or not the United States should grant amnesty to the estimated 12 million immigrants currently in the country illegally. Some lawmakers feel that border security problems need to be addressed first in order to avoid giving what would essentially be carte blanche to those able to make it into the United States illegally, while others flat out oppose any attempt at amnesty.
Bettran's parents immigrated into the country illegally before he was born and were granted citizenship in the last amnesty, which occurred in 1980. Manuel was born in the United States, and noted, ''Fortunately, they were able to become citizens during the last amnesty, but I know many people that weren't that lucky,'' told the NY Times—it seems that Bettran was speaking from experience, his brother was forced to leave the country.
It's a controversial issue that is sure to inflame passions. In short, if you thought pushing healthcare through was drama, you ain't seen nothing yet.