Washington, D.C.- Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is more famous on the Hill for being a political animal, than for his leadership on Immigration. Capitan of a ship that has not yet reached port, many ask what type of leader he has been and in which direction he is taking the wheel.
He has been leading the subcommittee on immigration, refugees and national security in the Senate for more than two years.
“To all the critics who say there are not enough votes for immigration reform I say, it is dark before dawn. We’ve passed the darkness and a new day is coming”, he said in a speech in August 2009.
However, illegal immigrants remain in the shadows, under a night that seems gloomier than ever, considering that during the past two years deportations have risen to over 800,000.
If we strictly talk about legislative accomplishments in the area of immigration, Schumer was the author of the border security law that appropriated $ 601 million. He also participated in amendments to immigration law to extend benefits to orphans and widows with pending visas.
Yesterday, in an interview with La Opinion the Senator highlighted as part of his accomplishments, his leadership in working with the administration “to grant temporary protected status to Haitians after the earthquake”. He also assured all that he through his “involvement with USCIS, prevented an increase in costs to those applying for naturalization and fought amendments that would make E-Verify mandatory”.
On immigration reform, his work along with Lindsey Graham (R-SC) produced an op-ed where they presented the basics for a bill. He was also part of a Democratic framework on the subject. Both points have been criticized as insufficient.
When assessing his tenure, activists like Frank Sharry, executive director of Americas Voice, see more incomplete work than achievements. “Schumer has positioned himself to be the dealmaker that will bring immigration reform toward its goal. But he also allowed for immigration reform to be held hostage by republicans. Only if they say yes, will he will move it along.”
“Nobody has met our expectations not Schumer, the White House, nor anyone. I think that during the past two years they have lost many opportunities. I do not think any of them have been good leaders in the immigration area,” said Ali Noorani, executive director of the National Immigration Forum.
Moreover, sources linked to immigration policy, assure that the legislator “has not sought to resolve the problem. His reputation is that he does not do anything that does not pay dividends in the media.”
On the republican side, meanwhile, Schumer is seen as a politician with tricks under his sleeve. “His fame is that he is a strategist. He does not stitch without a thread. Never puts his signature on something that does not bring political dividends,” said a source in the republican leadership.
A group that has been highly critical of the legislator are young people who have fought for the DREAM Act. ”I’m really disappointed with this man. I think that he is leading the Democratic Party to be more anti-immigrant,” said Gaby Pacheco, leader of United We Dream, commenting on the work of the legislator and his measures to secure the border as well as his use of jargon that refers to undocumented immigrants as “illegal.”
When asked about the criticism he faces, Schumer considered it “unfair” and reiterated that “a reform requires bipartisan support.” Even when asked about what he most regrets during his time as leader of the immigration subcommittee, he said: “not having achieved enough votes to pass the Dream Act.”
One day after 22 other senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for improved procedure of a process that grants differed action for “Dreamers”, Schumer did his own thing in parallel.
In a letter sent April 14th, the legislator criticized the Department of Homeland Security and their use of resources in placing young people who don’t have a criminal record in deportation procedures.
A goal which he said he plans to continue fighting for, without giving up on what he called his ultimate goal: immigration reform.