Free Markets, Free People

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.



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19 Responses to Obama gives immigration reform a thumbs down

  • while another big legislative issue — climate change — is already on their plate
    Yea, this is the revenue side of things.  Without it, this year’s (& next ..) budget won’t look good for him in 2012.

  • “I don’t want us to do something (*cough*HCR*cough*) just for the sake of politics (*cough*HCR*cough*) that doesn’t solve the problem,”

    …he said, and collapsed in a fit of hysterical laughter.

  • “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.

    Let me get this straight, it’s so hard to enforce we’ll just make it legal?

    Doesn’t really solve the problems but as long as it’s legal…. problem solved?  HUH???

    Kids are cheating on tests. 
    Teachers say it’s too difficult to enforce all the rules against cheating.
    Therefore almost all cheating is made legal.
    Problem solved. We’ve reduced cheating to almost Zero because it’s not cheating if it’s legal.
     Wow, great thinking!

    • I think that this hits the nail on the head.

      While I’m sure that there are people out there who oppose ALL immigration, I’d say that most who side with Arizona in this case don’t mind LEGAL immigration and would have no problem with the government changing the process  to allow more immigrants / guest workers, a faster immigration / guest worker entry process, and perhaps better legal protection and access to public services for immigrants / guest workers.  I don’t see why we can’t have modern versions of Ellis Island along the border with Mexico and at other applicable places in our country where would-be immigrants / guest workers could be processed and, if necessary, housed and cared for while we investigate their background and check for diseases that we don’t want introduced into the country.

      As a personal anecdote, a good friend of mine from Canada has been trying for NINE YEARS at a cost of thousands of dollars to get his US citizenship.  WTF.

    • I think CATO is right. My problem with illegal immigration is that they tend to stay here without assimilating, work under the table, and receive various forms of welfare, And they have a path to citizenship: childbirth.

      I think we do need a guest worker program instead, but it needs to be set up such that it can’t be used to achieve citizenship or perminant residence by getting knocked up.

      I also think we need to expand immigration, but not necessarly from Mexico. We should be able to discriminate with respect to country of origin with the best interests of the US in mind, which means to me probably more immigrants from India and few from Pakistan, etc.

    • No, that’s not what he’s saying at all. He’s saying register them and give them permits to work here legally all the while fixing the broken system that gave them the incentive to come here illegally in the first place. He’s not saying a word about giving them citizenship.

      • We can get rid of the incentive by souring the jobs pool.
        In fact that’s 1/2 the reason you can’t get support for enforcement.  Too many people make a profit from the situation where the worker may even get paid effectively more after taxes but the employer pays a whole lot less.
        Do you really think those employers will give that up?  Especially when the rest of us step in and provide the social safety net that both the employer and/or employee can duck out of paying into.
        They not only save money often, they get an employee who is more deeply beholding to them.  Not maintaining sanitary conditions all the time in that meat plant?  Who’s going to call!  Got a truck full of chemicals that are too expensive to dump?  Who better to ask to go throw them in the ditch?  You have someone who is obliged to be more of an old age servant than an employee.
        A guest worker program will be regulated and taxed eventually.  And if they are, the guest workers lose their appeal and there will still be a sizable market for cheap and discrete labor.
        What a guest worker program is more likely to do it put a large block of somewhat lesser paid individuals into new regions and new categories of jobs.  Michigan has a smaller illegal immigrant load and in part its because discrete travel is probably difficult.  Guest worker simplifies this.  And now guest workers can be used in places illegal immigrants cannot be.  Especially places where having an illegal alien can draw a negative reaction from customers.  Receptionists or any other job that interfaces in the public.  Government employment opens wide for guest workers too.
        Add in the cries of 2nd class citizenship!   And Make them citizens Now! and guest workers become am overnight mechanism for citizenship at the right moment.
        The real root cause is demand for sub regulatory labor wages with more of a servant than employee mentality.  Its not for non-citizen workers.

  • There is something else at work here as well:
    In the face of every illegal immigrant, is the face of a failed Socialist society.
    If the National debate was suddenly thrust to the front burner, enviably  the discussion will turn to why these folks left their home s in the first place? Why they choose to head north instead of south? Could it be that even with all its warts, Capitalism is still the preferred model?
    These illegal migrants are economic refugees of a failed social experiment. To publicly admit that, obama would have to face the reality that his policies are the very same that created the migrant tsunami that threatens to over-whelm our social safety net today.
    Illegal aliens are the ghosts of obama’s future. He possesses neither the ethics, nor the morals, to admit it.

    • The thing is that most (except perhaps those from Cuba) are still socialists to some extent, and given the chance they will vote for Obama or someone like him.

  • “Harry Reid must be thrilled.”

    So he is going with his second best argument in his latest series of TV ads in Nevada.
    The local Democratic rag (I am safe in characterizing it that way since Ms. Rose, its executive editor, recently agreed to give up local reporting and reprint only USA Today national “news”, complete with logo, in order to shift reporters to local news) leads today with the headline:  “Reid’s TV ads defend reform”.
    The actual article is balanced (the local reporter assigned to do the story is fair and balanced) and quotes Reid’s campaign manager accusing Republicans of misrepresenting health care reform and saying that voters are “confused”.  He also says:  “When you break out and ask about the individual pieces, they are immensely popular with voters.”  In other words, if you forget about government control, the increase to the deficit, the harm caused to existing plans, etc. and only mention the supposed benefits, the voters like it.  Hell, if one leaves out the negatives, selling one’s soul to the Devil sounds pretty good.
    I am sure he would have preferred going with Immigration Reform.  Haha, too bad Harry.

  • Is this like DADT, where Obama doesn’t really care personally? I wonder if he is not more “black” then he seems and resents immigrants, illegals especially.

  • If Obama does not get immigration reform passed, he loses my vote for 2012.  I used to be a really big fan of his.  I am livid at him for not following through with his promise.  You are hearing this fro ma 31/white male.

  • One thing about illegal immigration is that it impacts legal immigration. If millions come here by jumping the fence, it means millions will be denied legal immigration.

  • Are these potential votes (if these folks ever become US citizens) so important that either party must look the other way and ignore immigration laws on the books ?

    Barack Obama says .. YES WE CAN ignore these laws

  • “By essentially barring the legal entry of low-skilled immigrant workers,”

    I do not think that is correct. Unless, of course, he thinks that working in convenience stores, driving cabs, landscaping, and agricultural work, and washing dishes  is highly skilled.

  • “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.”

    1. Immigration is not prohibited.
    2. The production of alcohol is still highly regulated, hence the ‘Alcohol’ in BATF.
    3. Even though prohibition has ended, there are still those who violate our remaining laws regarding  the  production of alcohol, hence the existence of BATF.

    How does we remove the incentive to enter the US illegally unless we allow anyone who wishes to enter the US to do so?

    • Good grief – Illegal immigration is prohibited.

      The lack of work visas or the ability to get them has created a demand that manifests itself in illegals entering country to work.

      Fix the problem – the system which can’t manage work visas- and fix much of the illegal immigration problem. That will also help secure the border by having these workers enter legally.

  • The only way illegal immigration will cease, other than having an airtight border, is when job opportunities for illegal immigrants are gone. ‘Reform’ away to your heart’s content but unless you have open borders there will be illegal immigration until the incentive is gone. Setting immigration policy according to the wishes of immigrants may be a solution, but it is not one I favor.

    My point about alcohol, poorly expressed, is that there is still illegal alcohol production. Repealing prohibition did not solve the problem.