The Daily Caller

The Daily Caller

On immigration, President Obama needs to step up and lead

How do we get beyond the inflammatory and self-defeating polemics of our current immigration debate?  Sadly, the new Congress is shaping up to be just as divisive and deadlocked as the last one.

The new Republican majority in the House, already drunk with power, plans to introduce legislation to repeal “birthright” citizenship for the children of illegal immigrants.  It’s hard to imagine a more deliberate and ugly provocation.  Even if a toned-down version of the bill ends up passing the Senate, which is unlikely, Obama’s certain to veto it.  And there will be lawsuits galore.

For many Latinos, the repeal push will only confirm their worst fears: the GOP doesn’t really care about illegal immigration — it’s simply out to get them.  What a stupid signal to send after making such impressive inroads with Latino voters in November.  Even long-time immigration critics like Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies oppose the new legislation.  They say it’s a distraction — and won’t actually reduce illegal immigration by that much.

Not that the immigration lobby is helping matters much.  With the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), it’s pushing for passage of the so-called Dream Act during the upcoming “lame-duck” session of Congress.  Lame-duck sessions are sometimes needed to address a nation’s unfinished business — no question.  But they’re not intended to allow outgoing members of Congress one last chance to pass unpopular pieces of legislation before the incoming Congress is seated.  It’s an affront to the voters, and to basic democratic principles.

In fact, prior to the midterms, the Democrats tried to pass the Dream Act as an amendment to the defense authorization bill, but a GOP filibuster threat nipped that effort in the bud.  And with his party defeated, Reid’s even less likely to find a moderate Republican like Susan Collins (R-ME) to defect to his side.  Even many Democrats, including staunch supporters of the Dream Act, are likely to blanch, given the stakes.  Twenty-three Senate Democrats are up for re-election in 2012 compared to just ten Republicans.  A controversial Dream vote is likely to incur the wrath of independent voters, costing some Democrats their seats.

For their own sake — and for their party’s sake — Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would do well to reconsider.

In the meantime, President Obama needs to fill the widening void between the two parties.  Since taking office, he’s placated his liberal base with pro-reform rhetoric while refusing to risk his capital or reputation on the issue.  Now, Obama’s ideally positioned to do for immigration reform what Bill Clinton did for welfare reform: tack to the center and use his extraordinary good will with the American people to build a broader consensus among moderates in the two parties.  For the good of the country, it’s time for Obama to step up — and out — on his own.

First, to defuse the far right, the president should formally “de-couple” amnesty from the rest of immigration reform. That doesn’t necessarily mean abandoning legalization as a goal — just placing it on the back burner, at least through 2012.  Of course, immigration advocates, including Dream supporters, will howl.  But most voters, including many Democrats, won’t.  They support the GOP’s strategy of “enforcement first” and are less inclined to be compassionate toward illegal immigrants when joblessness is so high.

  • Tess_Comments

    It is the responsibility of the US Federal Government to Enforce Current US Immigration Laws.

    The debate is about obeying US Laws. Yes to Legal Immigration under the Current US Immigration Laws.

    Do not reward Immigrants that have broken US Laws. NO to any form of Amnesty for ANY Illegal Immigrant in the US.

  • rockhard

    This reporter thinks we need more unskilled workers lol forget the TEN OF MILLIONS americans here who high school drop outs. you think we need to import more ? look even legal immigration is out of control we have more then TWO MILLION LEGAL IMMIGRANTS EVERY YEAR, I say we stop that as well..

    WE TODAY DON’T NEED THEM, MAYBE A FEW THOUSAND SKILLED PEOPLE AND THATS ABOUT IT. ITS A NEW WORLD AND AMERICA IS NOT GOING TO MOVE FORWARD BY ALLOWING MILLIONS OF LOW SKILLED PEOPLE TO FLOOD OUR COUNTRY SO EVERY MICKEY MOUSE BUSINESS COULD HIRE THEM ON THE CHEAP AND SCREW AMERICAN UNSKILLED WORKERS.

  • sallyal

    “the GOP doesn’t really care about illegal immigration”. What a stupid statement! Of course they care. They want it STOPPED not rewarded. And really, don’t most immigrants that have followed the rules and come here legally also want it stopped? They are being shunted aside for illegals and the politicians (libs) seem to think that just because they are of Spanish descent or Asian or whatever, they would automatically support amnesty (otherwise known as “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” Snort!).

  • recovered dem

    This writer must have his head stuck in a certain body part. Obama no longer is “extraordinarily” popular with Americans. Our own people (Americans) are hurting! Americans are still out of work, losing their homes and can’t get the help they need. Now is NOT the time to worry about immigration reform except securing our borders!

    Illegals should not be rewarded with citizenship for their criminal act of sneaking into this country and taking advantage of social services that should be provided to Americans. People from all over the world are attempting to become Americans the right way and have to wait. Illegals have no right to be placed in front of the line.

    We must use our finite resources to take care of our own people, get this country’s economy back on the right track, and our people back to work.

  • rockhard

    Why should the GOP or any party care about illegal immigrants ? man get real all you elites are the same, american people don’t support amensty..

    enoug is enough if your illegal you should just be sent home I like when people with great jobs tell the rest of america what we should think..

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