Amnesty al Fresco: Buzzfeed scoops the Democrats’ internal debate: Should Obama should grant de facto immigration amnesty-by-decree now or wait, lest Republicans use any decree as a reason to say they don’t trust Obama and therefore won’t move an immigration bill. (Aside: Of course they shouldn’t trust Obama! They shouldn’t trust the administration whatever it decides regarding a decree’s timing. The mere fact that Obama is thinking about another de facto amnesty decree shows he is way too solicitous of Latino activists to reliably implement any enforcement provisions in a future amnesty bill such as an employment-verification system.)
The internal Dem debate is between the activists–who argue for immediate relief–and Senater Schumer’s aide, Leon Fresco, who holds out hope for a bill and wants to wait. The decider seems to be Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (and former La Raza lobbyist).** I suspect Fresco will win–it’s almost a no-brainer, since Obama can always issue the decree later, and deportations are down anyway except at the border.
One lesson of the episode is that the Democrats may not be as cunning as we paranoid opponents of “amnesty first” assume. Obama’s amnesty strategy could be just as confused and ad hoc as his Syria strategy, resulting in an executive amnesty “too small to satisfy advocates and too big to not piss off Republicans,” according to activist Frank Sharry.
But I’m more interested in a paragraph later in the Buzzfeed piece:
“The administration is also reportedly looking at shortening the time an immigrant is considered new, and therefore a removal priority. A recent immigrant would go from someone who entered in the last three years, to someone who entered in the last two weeks.” [E.A.]
Why is this significant? Because the implicit and explicit bargain of “comprehensive immigration reform” is supposed to be amnesty for those who are already here in exchange for tough measures to “secure” the border against people who might try to come illegally in the future. But this proposed rule change is seemingly prospective–it applies to those who come in the future, and tells them basically that if they can stay out of the authorities’ hands for two weeks, they’re home free (i.e., not a “removal priority”). It’s a relaxation of future enforcement–actually an added inducement for future breaches of the border (and visa overstays).
How can an administration that proposes letting future illegal immigrants stay–people not even here in “the shadows” yet, including people who have never lived here--credibly claim that once an amnesty bill passes it will then crack down on those who come illegally after the bill’s amnesty cutoff date? It can’t. It will be susceptible in the future to the same activist pressure that it is caving to now. The activists meeting with Munoz clearly don’t care only about those who are already here. The care about the future flow of their ethnic compatriots, illegal and legal. Good that this is finally being made explicit.
**–Amend your Con Law textbooks accordingly.