Obama’s bold move

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY NIKOS XYDAKIS

Barack Obama brought hope to the en­tire world when he was elected pres­i­dent of the United States in 2009 and then again in 2012 for a sec­ond term. Dur­ing his first visit to Europe, marked by a trip to Berlin, the Euro­peans wel­comed him as one of their own and with more warmth and op­ti­mism than they have be­stowed on any of their own lead­ers in re­cent his­tory. The elec­tion of the coun­try’s first AfricanAmer­i­can leader – seen as a spokesper­son for the op­pressed peo­ple of the world – to the su­per­power’s top post stirred hopes for a re­vival of democ­racy around the world and rekin­dled our lost faith in equal­ity and brother­hood. In the years that fol­lowed, the charis­matic pres­i­dent came un­der fire. He dis­ap­pointed his sup­port­ers and was judged harshly when he went back on ma­jor prom­ises, mostly be­cause he came un­der an enor­mous amount of pres­sure from the ra­bid re­ac­tions of the far right, and the fun­da­men­tal­ist Tea Party in par­tic­u­lar. On Thurs­day, how­ever, Obama took a his­toric step. By­pass­ing the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Congress, he an­nounced an ex­ec­u­tive decision to le­gal­ize some 5 mil­lion ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants in the US. “We are and al­ways will be a na­tion of im­mi­grants... If you meet the cri­te­ria, you can come out of the shad­ows and get right with the law,” the US pres­i­dent said in a tele­vised ad­dress watched across the na­tion and in which he showed that he has re­dis­cov­ered the pas­sion­ate rhetoric of the evan­gel­i­cal demo­crat who gal­va­nized the coun­try in 2008 in speeches in Philadel­phia and Chicago. Yet Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment was in­com­plete, as of the 11 mil­lion ir­reg­u­lar mi­grants es­ti­mated to be liv­ing in the US to­day just 5 mil­lion will be able to come out of the shad­ows and then for only three years when the pres­i­den­tial de­cree ex­pires. The newly le­gal­ized mi­grants, more­over, will pay taxes but will not en­joy the same ben­e­fits as other Amer­i­can cit­i­zens and will not be is­sued pass­ports. They will only come half­way out of the shad­ows. Nev­er­the­less, Obama’s par­tial amnesty, with strings, is his­toric and will push his ob­jec­tors to equally force­ful ac­tion: They will ei­ther con­tinue to fight against re­al­ity or grit their teeth and come to terms with it. Ei­ther way, Obama has sent a mes­sage and has set an ex­am­ple. Is Europe pay­ing at­ten­tion?

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