Politics

Obama rallies illegals, immigrants against GOP

Neil Munro White House Correspondent

People who support legalizing the 11.5 million illegal immigrants should focus their energies on lobbying Congress and on the 2014 election, President Barack Obama declared in a San Francisco speech Monday.

“If in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so,” he told a heckler who urged him to stop deporting illegals.

Obama said he agreed with the goal of amnesty, but added that “we’re also a nation of laws. … What I’m proposing is the harder path, is using our democratic process to achieve the same goals.”

“It won’t be easy as shouting — it requires lobbing and getting it done,” said Obama, who is on a West Coast fundraising trip to help Democrats win the November elections and gain a majority in the House.

The heckler spoke up late in Obama’s speech. “Please use your executive authority to stop the deportation of all 11.5 million undocumented,” he shouted.

“Actually I don’t. … I respect the passion of these young people because they feel deeply about the concerns for their families,” Obama responded, before urging the immigration boosters to focus on the next election.

However, in June 2013, shortly before the 2012 election, Obama announced he would give work permits to younger illegal immigrants, mostly Latinos. Because of Obama’s order, 465,033 illegals have been allowed to join the workforce by November 2013, even though Congress has rejected several bills that would have given him the authority.

Roughly 20 million Americans are unemployed. Their number includes many young Latinos, African-Americans, immigrants and white citizens.

Obama’s 2013 offer of work permits to the illegals boosted his support among Latinos, 71 percent of whom voted for him in November 2012.

Earlier in the speech, Obama had slammed the GOP for opposing the Senate immigration rewrite, which is backed by Democrats, advocates for the illegals, business groups and numerous billionaires.

If approved by the House, the Senate’s immigration expansion would welcome 30 million immigrants, plus millions of temporary guest workers, over the next decade. That influx would import roughly one immigrant or guest-worker for every American aged 11 to 21, or one immigrant for every American teenager in 2012. Current law allows one million immigrants and 700,000 guest workers to enter the country each year.

The Senate’s bill has been blocked by top GOP leaders in the House, who are trying to balance donors’ demands for more workers with voters’ opposition to imported workers, and voters’ support for more jobs and higher wages.

After 13 years of high immigration, fewer native-born Americans have jobs, and the gap between the wealthy and the poor is expanding, especially in California.

Throughout his speech, Obama lauded would-be immigrants, legal immigrants and immigrants, while ignoring the interest of Americans who are unemployed, paid low wages or facing workplace competition from immigrants.

He also dismissed legal and traditional definition of American nationality, and said anyone on the planet whose beliefs match his should be treated as an American citizen.

“What makes us American is our shared belief in certain enduring principles — our allegiance to a set of ideas, to a creed, to the enduring promise of this country, and our shared responsibility is to leave this country more generous, more hopeful than we found it,” he declared.

The younger illegals now living in the country, he said, “are Americans through and through in every way but on paper.” The papers dismissed by Obama consist of legal documents testifying to birthplace and to parents, such as birth certificates and passports.

It is unfair for Americans to deny amnesty to the illegals, Obama said. “We’ve got 11 million people in this country, including more than a million from Asia, with no real way to come forward and get on the right side of the law,” he said. “It’s not smart. It’s not fair.”

He applauded progressive activists who are conducting a hunger strike in Washington D.C. to help win an amnesty for the illegals. “I want them to know we hear you. We’re with you. The whole country hears you,” he said.

Foreign workers will be more productive in the United States if they can bring their wives and children into the United States, he said. “Workers will be more productivity if they’ve got their families here with them,” he said.

Obama didn’t discuss the high level of American unemployment among Latinos and African-Americans, or among high-skilled professionals. He didn’t talk about Americans’ stalled wages or how the Senate’s immigration rewrite would expand the growing gap between rich and poor. In fact, California has seen two decades of low-skill and high-skill immigration, so its middle class is shrinking and the gap between the wealthy and the poor is expanding.

Follow Neil on Twitter