Obama gives immigration reform a thumbs down
Harry Reid must be thrilled.
Instead of addressing the problem that Arizona’s legislature and governor felt compelled to address, Obama decides he’d rather fling poo and put it off again.
Of course I’m talking about addressing the immigration problem. Given the fact that the administration has no desire at this time to address the issue, look for other states, such as Texas, to give what Arizona has done a hard look.
So let’s see, jobs aren’t a priority – something the American people have said they’d like to be the priority of government. The deficit, another people’s priority, is obviously not a priority – and now immigration reform is off the table.
It appears Obama sees a political opportunity in postponing it yet again:
The president noted that lawmakers may lack the “appetite” to take on immigration while many of them are up for re-election and while another big legislative issue — climate change — is already on their plate.
“I don’t want us to do something just for the sake of politics that doesn’t solve the problem,” Obama told reporters Wednesday night aboard Air Force One.
Immigration reform was an issue Obama promised Latino groups that he would take up in his first year in office. But several hard realities — a tanked economy, a crowded agenda, election-year politics and lack of political will — led to so much foot-dragging in Congress that, ultimately, Obama decided to set the issue aside.
With that move, the president calculated that an immigration bill would not prove as costly to his party two years from now, when he seeks re-election, than it would today, even though some immigration reformers warned that a delay could so discourage Democratic-leaning Latino voters that they would stay home from the polls in November.
Consider that last sentence carefully – it tells you a lot about what Obama expects to happen in November, and it’s not good news for Democrats. However he sees the opportunity, should the Congress go Republican, to use the issue as a wedge to energize the Latino base while blaming inaction on the GOP and enhancing his reelection possibilities. The only thing transparent about this guy is his politics and that’s only because they’re so obvious.
Meanwhile, Daniel Griswold at CATO makes an excellent point about how immigration reform is best handled. In fact, his point is good enough to make me reconsider my “secure the border first and then do reform” stance. First his analogy:
Requiring successful enforcement of the current immigration laws before they can be changed is a non sequitur. It’s like saying, in 1932, that we can’t repeal the nationwide prohibition on alcohol consumption until we’ve drastically reduced the number of moonshine stills and bootleggers. But Prohibition itself created the conditions for the rise of those underground enterprises, and the repeal of Prohibition was necessary before the government could “get control” of its unintended consequences.
His point, of course, is we have to address the reason illegals are here first before we can reasonably expect to secure the border. In other words, remove the incentive by making it easier to legally enter to do work here:
By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers, our own government has created the conditions for an underground labor market, complete with smuggling and day-labor operations. As long as the government maintains this prohibition, illegal immigration will be widespread, and the cost of reducing it, in tax dollars and compromised civil liberties, will be enormous.
We know from experience that expanding opportunities for legal immigration can dramatically reduce incentives for illegal immigration. In the 1950s, the federal government faced widespread illegal immigration across the Mexican border. In response, the government simultaneously beefed up enforcement while greatly expanding the number of workers allowed in the country through the Bracero guest-worker program. The result: Apprehensions at the border dropped by 95 percent. (For documentation, see this excellent 2003 paper by Stuart Anderson, a Cato adjunct scholar and executive director of the National Foundation for American Policy.)
I think he has a point – not that the federal government has any immediate plans to address it or the broader issue. Instead it will continue to condemn states for acting in the absence of its action and abrogation of its responsibility.
It is a disturbing, but typical example of how out-of-touch the federal government is with the priorities and needs of the citizenry and how captivated it has become of special interest groups.