Americans are divided over immigration reform, and President Obama just ensured it will stay that way.
Based on early reports, Obama will bypass Congress and “allow some undocumented students to avoid deportation and receive work authorization.”
The benefits to Obama are obvious: He undercuts Marco Rubio’s efforts to accomplish this, you know, via the democratic legislative process. And Obama also gets to score political points with a growing voting bloc — just in time for his re-election efforts.
But the real consequences have little to do with politics. As someone who opposed the Arizona law — and has supported Rubio’s DREAM ACT — I am convinced that America needs to have a serious national discussion about immigration reform. Short-circuiting the legislative process deprives us of that organic discussion. It also guarantees there will be no bipartisan consensus. Perhaps Rubio could have persuaded more conservatives to back common sense reforms? The water is now poisoned. Obama — for transparently political purposes — has made sure that conservatives and Republicans will feel slighted and kept out of the loop.
That’s because they have been.
The downside, of course, is that this does nothing to heal this nation, nothing to bring us together, and only serves as a short-term solution for immigrants when a long-term solution — one based on consensus, not political opportunism — was needed.