Immigration: Right Thing The Wrong Way

The President, arguably, delivered a powerful speech last night. The outlines of what he will order are not inconsistent with aspects of what many envision as necessary steps to address the realities of our current immigration system and circumstances. There were five key aspects: additional border security, facilitate high skilled immigration, suspend deportation for millions who were not going to be deported anyway, prioritize the deportation of illegal immigrants involved in crime and address families where portions of the family are legal and portions are not. The President is correct, deporting millions is unrealistic and likely counterproductive.

There are, however, problems with context, motivation and competence, even assuming the legality of his actions.

Had this speech been delivered in the context of a legislative proposal as opposed to an executive order it is not difficult to imagine a groundswell of support sufficient to motivate Congress to act and the American people to rally in support of that legislation. The President eschewed proposed legislation, instead choosing the option that he knew would generate broad opposition and potentially bad behavior. The President opted for doing the right thing the wrong way; once again contrary to public opinion and Constitutional limitations.

It is difficult to come to an opinion other than the President’s elegant rhetoric was political bait for his opposition, with immigrants serving as the pawn in the game. If Obama’s motivation is as he describes it, why now? Why not when he had the power to pass legislation in his first two years in office, when opposition was simply insufficient to stop him? He did not want reform; he wanted the issue to inflame his base and club his opposition. His new found sense of urgency is a hollow guise based on his sense of the politics.

It is clearly in Republican self-interest, in the new Congress, to address immigration reform. If two Houses of Congress pass a bill that “the President can sign”, they take a chunk out of his potential legacy as Obama will have to share the stage. If Republicans address immigration reform in a common sense manner, with an eye to the realities, the Democratic meme of “Republicans hate immigrants” goes by the board as does the sense of automatic orientation to the Democratic Party.

There is also the question of competence as growing numbers of Americans question the ability of the administration to effectively manage the government. In recent Gallup polling 81% of Americans opined that they felt their government would “do what’s right” only some of the time. According to a CNN/ORC poll shows a majority of Americans believe the proper focus is to stop the flow of undocumented immigrants. The combination of competence, trust and the opinions of Americans will cast severe doubt on the President’s ability to actually execute effectively the potential complexities of his executive order, despite the simplicity of his outline. Americans are coming to understand that Presidential rhetoric has too often been based on lies and subterfuge, the recent Jonathan Gruber revelations casting yet another pall on the Presidents credibility. Americans also know that the President’s order will be executed by a bureaucracy that demonstrates ongoing incompetence and a focus more political than productive. J.E. Dyer points out in this space that The Secure Fence act was passed by both Houses of Congress in 2006, of the 700 miles approved only 36.3 miles have been executed. Americans come to know in greater and greater numbers that the President picks and chooses his “faithful execution” of the law and expect he will do so again.

The President, as he has many times in the past, had a choice between leadership and confrontation, between bringing people together or splitting them apart. Honoring the legislative process or going it alone. We can say this for the President; he’s consistent!

  • Bob


    I believe you miss the major point of this amnesty. If as you say (and many believe) this amnesty “suspends deportation for millions who weren’t going to be deported in the first place” what we have here is another Emancipation Proclamation where he proclaims to free people but circumstances dictate this Executive Order is basically meaningless. They wouldn’t have been deported anyway! If it’s all for show he could have simply just continue instructing Federal agencies to stand down where it concerns immigration and the borders. The point of it is for the courts to provide services and rights to these illegal immigrants in the future and win them over as a massive Democratic voting block today.

    I also disagree with you on the point where republicans should pass immigration reform. My first thought if I was a republican politician in Washington would be the President has proven himself not to be trusted so why bend over backwards to legitimize his amnesty proclamation? You have already lost the Hispanic vote due to this theatre by the President. By republicans passing immigration reform it would strengthen his legacy not diminish it by showing his unconstitutional lawlessness put pressure on the republicans to capitulate. Thereby not only weakening the Constitution and setting a precedent for future presidents but making any attempt at blocking this Executive Order moot. Use the results of this as a wedge for the 2016 election because I don’t see any ground swell of public support in any form for immigration reform when it is addressed as illegally taking American jobs away and this E.O. only adds to the publics distrust of Democrats. Of course Sec. Clinton and the other Democratic candidates can lamely attempt to distance themselves from the President like in 2014 but if the republicans let the President’s Executive Order go through would they later admit they want that E.O. power to disappear? Of course not the only difference between Hillary Clinton and President Obama is two X chromosomes.

  • delandreaux

    I fully expected major disagreements and have received them from a number of venues. I don’t believe Hispanics are lost to the Republicans … if Republicans speak to them as adults, appeal to their inherently conservative bent related to faith, family and hard work and don’t patronize them. If you’ve missed the groundswell of support for immigration reform your missing the polling that wants immigration reform just not this way.
    To me, Conservatism recognizes realities, even if we don’t like them. By the way, to my way of thinking there should be no immigration reform in the absence of closing the border. That is in the interest of everyone including illegal immigrants.
    Republicans and Conservatives alike need to follow Rand Paul’s example and take the case to people who don’t agree with us if for no other reason than to make them stop and consider the logic of the alternative.
    The splits are already beginning to show, a number of Black leaders have spoken out against the President’s executive order, they are finally coming to the realization that the first folks hurt are them and their communities.

    • Bob

      What you describe is the way things should work or had worked in the past. There is no such thing as assimilation into our culture any more. The left has killed that idea with “diversity.”

      I believe we are attempting to address the Hispanic vote as them having the same moral values as Conservatives believe in. What we are really facing is a people who come from countries that have basically socialist beliefs that the omnipotent government supplies the peoples wants as far as health care etc. What they face in reality however is bankrupt and corrupt governments. Any constituents that believe that will be an easy conversion to win over to your side. The Democrats will enjoy getting in a bidding war as to who could promise the most …and they just won the first round !