Dear Rep. Gutierrez:

The last few days have been disappointing. President Obama's decision to delay executive action on immigration reform is a blow to your efforts and those of your allies in the activist community. But you've already won.

Through your leadership, you have mobilized millions of Hispanics to pay attention to the political system and you've convinced the White House to take action even as Republicans in Congress have succeeded in killing immigration reform.


While this may not seem like a time to celebrate, you know that the president will take action after the election. Whatever he specifically does to ameliorate our nation's collapsing immigration system, it will be impactful. His actions will change the lives of millions of people. And I'm pretty sure that you will be there — the moment when President Obama uses his pen and frustrates the GOP's plans to deport the Dreamers and generally make life hell for immigrants.

You, better than anyone else in the immigration-reform movement, know what is like to wait. Through Republican and Democratic administrations, you've been in the vanguard of reformists. Yet we're still living the national nightmare that is our "immigration system." Throughout the years, however, you have never wavered, never put your arms up in surrender — you're a fighter, and the righteous cause of reform has driven you forward regardless of the barriers.

So now you will have to wait some more weeks. You will continue to push for action, and you will get it — but after the election. Your efforts are about to bear fruit, and our country will be stronger for it. You and I both know that President Obama will take meaningful action.

But your great labors are not yet over. The millions of Latinos who look to you for leadership still need you. They need to hear your firm voice — a voice of optimism, courage and perseverance.

As you know, some of the immigration-activist groups are ambivalent about the American political system. I have been accused of pushing "old failed strategies" by leaders of some of these groups. Ironically, I have been advocating for years that we Latinos have a debt to our great country — the debt of citizenry. The "old failed" strategy for which I have been advocating is voting.

It is an embarrassment that 40 percent or so of eligible Latino voters haven't even registered. In the 2012 election, less than 50 percent of the Hispanic electorate bothered to vote. This was at a time when the Republican nominee promised a policy of "self-deportation," which included making immigrant families miserable enough that they would "willingly" uproot their lives and leave the country.

So now, as activists and Spanish-language media pump anger and sell the supposed futility of meaningfully participating in the American democratic system that elected you, America and American Latinos in particular need you. Will you once again put on the mantle of leadership and guide our community?

Will you use your tremendous influence to bring Latinos to the polls November 4? The alternative is grim, as you know. Republican candidates for both the House and the Senate have run on xenophobic anti-immigrant platforms.

Should the GOP win control of the Congress, your cause, comprehensive immigration reform, will suffer a fatal blow. And even if some of these activists don't see the long-term trajectory of American politics, you do.

A Latino electorate that stays home because of the misguided premise that not voting is a form of political power — something that is true in several Latin American countries, but not in the U.S. — would be detrimental to the Dreamers and millions of other immigrants with hopes of working for the American Dream.

You have the experience and political maturity to discern between self-defeating emotion and political efficacy. While the disappointment of some of your allies is understandable, should they seek to sabotage our democracy on November 4, the country will suffer and their reputations will collapse.

Congressman, I look forward to your success in motivating Latinos to vote on November 4 — and the well-earned accolades that will follow when Latinos provide the margin of victory in an election that will decide the future of comprehensive immigration reform.

Sincerely yours,
Fernando Espuelas