Obama Guilts Americans On Immigration

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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President Barack Obama threw the political dice Thursday night by offering a massive amnesty to the least popular migrants, just weeks after he was decisively rebuked by voters angry about the stalled economy and Washington gridlock.

The speech began and ended with appeals to Americans’ sentimental tradition of welcoming immigrants. But Obama repeatedly acknowledged the weakness of his political position and the sacrifice that he’s demanding of Americans who are skeptical and disappointed about government, Obama and his immigration policy.

“I know some worry immigration will change the very fabric of who we are, or take our jobs, or stick it to middle-class families at a time when they already feel like they’ve gotten the raw deal for over a decade,” he said.

“Politicians use the issue to scare people and whip up votes at election time,” he said, only two weeks after many pro-amnesty Democratic candidates lost their seats.

“I know the politics of this issue are tough,” he said, without citing the many polls that show lopsided political opposition to amnesty.

“We need reasonable, thoughtful, compassionate debate that focuses on our hopes, not our fears,” he said, in a speech that will filled with emotional guilt-evoking appeals to Americans’ traditional support for European immigration.

But the public is increasingly unsentimental about immigration.

On Nov. 4, Americans in bluer-than-blue Oregon voted by a landslide to deny drivers’ licenses to illegal immigrants.

Since December 2012, Obama’s ratings on immigration have plunged, and in September, The Washington Post reported that he has 15 percent strong support and 47 percent strong opposition for his plan.

After a decade of stalled growth and flat wages, large numbers of Democrats tell pollsters they’d be “much more” likely to support GOP candidates who prioritize Americans workers over companies that want to employ migrants.

Obama knows the odds are bad. He didn’t cite costs or numbers, even though his aides say the amnesty will provide work-permits and government benefits to roughly five million foreigners.

Americans will look coldly at Obama’s speech, said one Hill staffer, and they’re going to say “you’re our president, not their president.”

Sen. Jeff Sessions’ response challenged the strategic weakness of Obama’s pitch. “It is time to champion the interests of those constantly neglected on the question of immigration: the men and women and children we represent—the citizens of this country to whom we owe our ultimate allegiance,” Sessions said.

“It is time to stand strong for the American people. … Every American must ask their senator where they stand,” he continued.

In polls, that message spikes support for GOP candidates.

Obama made a brief effort to talk up the economic benefits of immigration, just a few months after Americans watched 130,000 unskilled and poor migrants flood across the Texas border.

But that part of his speech mostly consisted of a call for Americans to welcome foreign professionals who will seek the jobs also sought by the debt-burdened graduates of American colleges.

“Are we a nation that educates the world’s best and brightest in our universities, only to send them home to create businesses in countries that compete against us? Or are we a nation that encourages them to stay and create jobs here, create businesses here, create industries right here in America?”

However, that risk is a critical aspect of immigration bet — he needs to provide blue-chip companies with an increased supply of foreign labor, in exchange for their continued political support for his amnesty push.

But that strategy has failed to move House Speaker John Boehner, who blocked the Senate’s 2013 immigration bill, despite massive media and donor pressure.

There’s little reason to believe Boehner will bend, just a few weeks after he helped the GOP to a smashing political victory, which was partly fought on immigration.

Obama’s guilt-speak likely won’t make any difference.

“For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial. It has shaped our character as a people with limitless possibilities — people not trapped by our past, but able to remake ourselves as we choose,” he began.

“We are a nation of immigrants,” he claimed, even though only one-in-six residents of the United States were born overseas. Eighty-five percent are natural born Americans.

“We were strangers once, too. And whether our forebears were strangers who crossed the Atlantic, or the Pacific, or the Rio Grande, we are here only because this country welcomed them in, and taught them that to be an American is about something more than what we look like, or what our last names are, or how we worship,” he said.

“That’s the country our parents and grandparents and generations before them built for us. That’s the tradition we must uphold. That’s the legacy we must leave for those who are yet to come.”

A majority of voters disagree with Obama about what they must do. The polls are summarized in this article.

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