Barack Obama Yucks It Up at Illegal Immigrants' Expense, and Congressman Luis Gutierrez Does Civil Disobedience in DC

It's interesting how President Barack Obama's contempt for the undocumented rears its head from time to time.

For instance, though he did blast Arizona's new "papers please" legislation just before Governor Jan Brewer signed it into law, he later told reporters aboard Air Force One that "there may not be an appetite" for comprehensive immigration reform this year.

This, despite the fact that Obama had -- in his April 23rd denunciation of SB 1070 -- said that "the failure to act responsibly at the federal level" opened the door to "irresponsibility by others," such as Arizona's new anti-immigrant law.

"If we continue to fail to act at a federal level, we will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country," said Obama at a naturalization ceremony for active-duty service members in the Rose Garden the day of the Governor's signing.

And yet, Obama himself has no "appetite" for immigration reform.

If such rank hypocrisy weren't bad enough, Obama compounded the impression that he regards Arizona's immigration tinderbox as one big joke during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner last night.

In a rambling monologue wherein he poked fun at himself and others, Obama took aim at his erstwhile rival for the presidency, U.S. Senator John McCain, but ended by blasting illegal immigrants instead.

"Unfortunately, John McCain couldn't make it," he joked. "Recently he claimed that he had never identified himself as a `maverick.' And we all know what happens in Arizona when you don't have ID...Adios, amigos!"

Cute. Unless you happen to be looking down the barrel of AZ's bigoted legislation. 

Now I'm the last one to insist on political correctness over irreverence, even from the President of the United States. 

But combined with other statements from Obama on this issue and his continued lack of action on the subject, it's safe for Latinos to assume the President is a weak sister when it comes to protecting their constitutional rights and pursuing comprehensive immigration reform. 

So far, Latinos, the president has not been your friend.


Congressman Gutierrez is arrested Saturday during a protest in DC

I have a quick point to make about the May Day rallies that took place around the country yesterday, and which targeted Arizona's new anti-immigrant law, which presumes you're illegal unless you can provide certain forms of ID to a cop.

The demonstration here in Sand Land was somewhat lackluster compared to others around the nation on May Day, and during the rest of the week.

In particular, Congressman Luis Gutierrez and scores of other demonstrators were arrested Saturday in front of the White House fence after they sat down there and refused to leave.

Similarly, in Illinois last week, 24 protesters linked arms and blocked a deportation van in front of a federal facility, chanting "Illinois is not Arizona."

It certainly isn't. Nor is DC.

I have praised the nine college students who chained themselves to the Arizona Capitol's doors on April 20. They are brave young souls, who were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for their actions.

But since the Capitol Nine took a stand, other activists have been reluctant to follow. There are a lot of big mouths on the bullhorns, to be sure. But getting arrested for civil disobedience 1960s-style is a hard sell, it seems.

Some have argued to me that this is because there are so many undocumented in the ranks of the protesters, and these people would risk deportation.

However, most of the "professional protesters" you see at almost all of the demonstrations against Arpaio, SB 1070, et al., are American citizens.

To be sure, some of these pros have been arrested in the past, usually inadvertently, like during the activism at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors by groups like ACORN and MCSA. Or during other protests.

The big difference is that those folks, in general, were not looking to get arrested, like those practicing nonviolent civil disobedience in Illinois and DC. Not that this makes their courage any less admirable.

I'm not arguing that anyone has to do anything to prove their bona fides. After all, as a reporter, I'm not supposed to go out looking to get arrested, thus making myself the story instead of reporting the story.

In other words, I have the luxury of saying that it's not my job to get cuffed. If it happens during the course of my doing my job -- as it did with New Times' founders in 2007, so be it.

But the professional protesters? It is their job to lay down in front of vans and get arrested. The Capitol Nine were not pros. They were amateurs, in the best sense of that word, yet they outshone many of the old hands.

The Capitol Nine upped the bar for all of us. And now Illinois and DC are putting Sand Land to shame. Will demonstrators here step up their game? Can they maintain momentum now that the law is passed and we have to await the outcome of various legal challenges?

That's what I wonder, as I watch the YouTube video of Congressman Gutierrez being detained.

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