Originally Published in USA Today
Rebecca Morín - August 19, 2020
WASHINGTON – Several immigration activists criticized former President Barack Obama for narrating a video on immigration for the Democratic National Convention Wednesday evening.
"Immigration is our origin story," Obama said in the video's voiceover. "After all, unless your family is Native American, all of our families come from someplace else."
Julissa Natzely Arce Raya, immigrant rights advocate and author of “My (Underground) American Dream," wrote on Twitter that she wish someone else had narrated the video.
"Obama did a lot of things right, but not immigration, he didn't get that right," she wrote. "I promise you, tonight there is a Estela whose mom was deported by Obama."
She added in a follow up tweet: "We must face all the things we don't like. The uncomfortable truths. This is one of them. If we can face it, admit the harm, then, and only then, can we do better."
Obama's administration has often been criticized by activists for the deportation of 3 million people. Throughout the primary season, immigration activists frequently protested events held by Joe Biden, Obama's vice president and now the Democratic nominee for president.
But Obama also by executive order issued the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allowed roughly 650,000 undocumented immigrants, now known as Dreamers, brought to the country before their 18th birthday to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation that could be renewed. The program was upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
Biden in February conceded that the Obama administration "took far too long to get it right" with immigration and it was "a big mistake."
Some viewers also criticized Tuesday's segment as "using immigrant pain" while not addressing the Obama administration's record.
One emotional moment in the segment came from Estela Juarez, an 11-year-old who recounted how her mother was deported under the Trump administration after her father voted for the president in 2016.
“My dad thought you would protect military families so he voted for you in 2016, Mr. President. He says he won't vote for you again after what you did to our family,” Juarez said in a video. “Instead of protecting us, you tore our world apart.”
Belén Sisa, who served as Bernie Sanders Latino press secretary for his 2020 campaign, wrote on Twitter: "Really not into the @DNC using immigrant pain like they didn’t have some complacency in locking us up and separating families four years ago before Trump took office."
Erika Andiola, immigration rights activist and Chief Advocacy Officer for the organization RAICES, wrote on Twitter that Obama narrating the immigration video "was like putting salt on the wound."
"Yes, I am angry because it was his administration who almost deported my mother and then Trump came to try to deport her again," she tweeted. "I get it. This is politics, but I am a human. This hurts."
She noted in separate tweets that "Trump is a MONSTER on immigration" and must be voted out, but also noted that "Obama/Biden were NOT champions for the undocumented community."
"We are going to defeat Trump and remind Biden over and over again what that video said," Andiola tweeted. "We are going to fight for justice for our communities. We gotta fight hard. (No) one is going to hand it to us. Not Biden. Not the DNC."