Anaheim played host to an immigration town hall last Friday night hosted by a number of reform advocacy groups. It was there that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez did the previously unspeakable by uttering sweet Aztlanista words into the mic. Before a packed crowd at the Betsy Ross Elementary School auditorium, the lawmaker publicly pushed President Barack Obama on his administration's record deportations.
"I would just like to say to the President: Ya basta, Señor Presidente," Sanchez declared at the end of her speech, "No more deportations en nuestras familias."
Hours before the event, word on the street held that Sanchez planned to take a public stance against deportations. Could it be true? Would the same congresswoman who supported the INS jail program in Anaheim, had to be pressured into co-sponsoring the DREAM Act and scurried away from an activist's questions about arrests of DREAMers in her D.C. office during a recent sit-down protest, really hammer the President? With news of Obama's deportation mill alienating young Latino voters from the Democratic Party, did she see the burrito for the beans in an upcoming election year?
The Weekly had our camera ready for whatever did or didn't transpire.
"If we can't get something passed in the House of Representatives," Sanchez said, "then let's get the President to stop these deportations." She referenced a resolution brought forth by the Hispanic Congressional Caucus last year to pressure the White House to decrease deportations. "I was for 'yes,' but I lost in that group," the congresswoman claims. Then came Sanchez's statement tough talking the Deporter-in-Chief.
The Orange County DREAM Team, who issued an open letter to Loretta calling on her to take a public stand, responded to her comments immediately.
"We welcome Congresswoman's Sanchez's decision to publicly condemn President Obama's record deportations, and support expanding Deferred Action and other Administrative Relief programs during tonight's immigration town hall in Anaheim," the group's statement said. "We hope that now the Congresswoman champions this position whenever she discusses immigration going forward."
Sanchez, who invited her colleague and fellow Hispanic Congressional Congress member Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois) to attend and speak at the event, faced criticism from an undocumented immigrant before her big moment. In his testimony, Ricardo Muñiz told the audience about how Anaheim police turned him over to ICE in 2007 after he claims they asked for his social security number. The Guinida Lane youth eventually gained a stay of removal no thanks to Sanchez. "Her office didn't help me," Muñiz said.
Now that Congresswoman Sanchez is on record against record deportations, will actions match rhetoric the next time a resident in her district pleads for help?
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz