Obama’s State of the Union speech is awaited as a decisive turning-point. After the hints told in the Inauguration Speech the debate went on and both parties elaborated more defined programs. They are clearly oriented and, for somebody, unsatisfactory as long as they repeat the major bits of the Senate’s proposal.
Political scientist Victoria DeFrancesco Soto notes that the showdown would happen now or never. President Obama has been re-elected with the crucial endorsement of Latinos, it started his second mandate with a progressive agenda, he is supported by public opinion and even by some Republicans concerned with the issue. It is the beginning of the mandate, and people can forget some unpopular decision: all the more so he can act freely, since he hasn’t to fear of not winning another election.
Nonetheless, I’m still not sure that something very revolutionary will turn out. The direction of the development is not so unpredictable and it seems uneasy to me that the blueprint forged by the Senate will be overthrown. Even if Obama is suggesting to widen consistently the reform, I think it is possible that this purpose would prove unsuccessful and then the blame will be put on someone undefined: political system, disagreement between the parties, and so on.
Furthermore, activists for immigrants rights disagree too on whether citizenship should be a key element of the overhaul or not. I’ve already indicated that this can be very controversial and complicated, but there is no doubt regarding the fact that different agents have different views. I’m not too happy about it, but since Obama himself has called CEOs to discuss the issue I would believe that economy is going to have a big deal, and I don’t know how much citizenship can be part of economical interests. Once again, what is likely to happen for me is a symbolical reform: granted, a path toward citizenship, but “equal”, that implicitly means long and probably expensive.
What I want to point to, though, are not Obama’s speech that we are all curious to listen to, also for what regards other questions. Immigration is a matter of actual life, of physical movement and bodily experience, and what is truly momentous is how these lives and these bodies testify in front of the media and the national conscience. These time two undocumented people have been invited to the discourse: it is painful to admit, but that’s something that in Italy wouldn’t happen so easily. In my country, even if the problem is not less consistent, these people still haven’t political visibility and are simply supposed to be “criminal” or rather “not existent” at all. No matter if we meet them daily in the streets.
The faces and the stories of one Alan Aleman and one Ambar Pinto, together with the activity of associations like Edu-Futuro, can help bring a country even further than shy political moves do.