Hispanics greet Barack Obama’s presidency with optimism


Miami : The Hispanic community has greeted with hope and optimism the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, EFE reported.

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In Chicago, dozens of Hispanics gathered early Tuesday at a Mexican community organisation to watch on television the historic swearing-in of the first African-American to become the nation’s president.

Jorge Mujica, one of the organisers of the immigration rights marches May 1, 2006, said that while he is happy with the change, he prefers “not to believe until he sees” what the new president does.

“I put myself with the pessimists – the best news for me is that the (George W.) Bush regime is ending,” Mujica said.

The activist said that there will be enough time in the next four years to crystallize the anxiously awaited immigration reform providing a path to legalisation – if not citizenship – for some 12 million undocumented migrants.

On the other side of the city, the undocumented Flor Crisostomo, who has spent more than a year in the sanctuary of St. Adalbert United Methodist Church in Humboldt Park, watched closely as the son of an African and an American put his hand on the Bible that belonged to Abraham Lincoln to take the oath of office.

Crisostomo, who faces immediate deportation the minute she leaves the sanctuary, said that she fears Obama will now realise that his promise to do something for the undocumented in his first 100 days in office will not be so easy with an economy in ruins.

“Our answer is to mobilise and send him e-mails and letters so that he sees that we are not one more problem,” she told EFE.

Also reacting with optimism were activists in California like Jorge Mario Cabrera of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, who said that “the transition team is composed of diverse, progressive people, which makes me think that the kind of advice the president will receive will be closer to our needs”.

“Also the fact that – as he said in his campaign and later confirmed – immigration is one of the seven principal concerns of his administration,” he said.

For immigrant Carlos Hernandez from Hermosillo, Mexico, the new government is a “hope for better times”.

“I believe that this president is going to make real changes, since he is the son of immigrants and knows how to value those of us who have come from other countries,” Hernandez said while following the transfer of power on a giant screen by Staples Center in Los Angeles.

For her part, Nicaraguan Rosa Gonzalez, 32, who lost her job at a hotel two months ago, hopes that “Obama improves the economy and makes life easier for immigrants”.

In Miami, several organisations said that after Obama’s inauguration, hope has been renewed that the status of immigrants will at last be resolved.

“We have feelings of hope and optimism with the historic swearing-in of Obama, who has committed himself to working to get approval of a comprehensive immigration reform and revising programmes like raids on immigrants,” said Sergio Massa, president of the Peruvian American Coalition.

Meanwhile, Jose Lagos, president of Honduran Unity, repeated the plea of hundreds of activists that the president declare a moratorium on roundups of immigrants while immigration reform is being worked out.

For Elizabeth Cabello, a Mexican legal immigrant living in Charleston, South Carolina, Obama’s inauguration signifies “hope” for the Hispanic community because he will be a president who “represents minorities”.

“I believe that he will be able to get immigration reform approved and bring out of the shadows so many undocumented immigrants who live in fear, and will also bring our soldiers home. I have a daughter serving in the Middle East (with the US military) and I want her to finish her tour of duty,” she said.