People and Politics by Patrick Roberts
White House arrest of Rep. Gutierrez a wakeup call for Obama on immigration reform
Posted on Sunday, May 02, 2010 at 09:16 PM
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The hundreds of thousands who took to the streets of America this weekend calling for immigration reform are ensuring that this issue will not go away.
But perhaps it was the arrest of Congressman Luis Gutierrez of Chicago outside the White House that will impact President Obama the most.
Gutierrez is an old ally from the Chicago era and the two men, both political outsiders at key points in their lives, have an awful lot in common.
Gutierrez stayed on in Congress because Obama was elected and he was given a firm promise that immigration reform would be top of the new president's agenda.
Since then Gutierrez has been bitterly disappointed in his old friend.
He has warned Obama that the Hispanic congressional caucus is no longer a solid vote on many key issues unless immigration is addressed.
But Obama has not listened.
Then at the weekend, Gutierrez uppsd the ante, allowing himself to get arrested outside the house where his old friend now resides and shapes all policy.
Gutierrez's symbolic act is also a final signal to Obama that he needs to get real about immigration reform and stop trying to shrink his responsibilites.
There is no question that a new vista has opened, that the new Arizona law has propelled reform back onto the front page and front line.
Obama needs to grasp the moment and shape a compromise between two bitterly opposed sides.
That is what great leaders do.
Great leaders also take the ultimate step, like Martin Luther King in getting arrested, like Gutierrez did to drawn attention to the horrific reality that a lack of federal action is causing on this issue.
Gutierrez was issuing a call to action,a clarion call that Obama should ignore at his peril.
Are you listening Mr. President?
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