WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama knows his amnesty for illegals is not popular, so he’s going back out on the campaign trail to persuade or mollify critical voter blocs, according to a top White House official.
“The politics are not easy on immigration, they never have been,” Dan Pfeiffer told The Daily Caller at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “We didn’t do this for politics. We did it because it is the right thing to do.”
“The president will undertake a very aggressive sales job,” Pfeiffer said. “We’ll travel all over the country to do this. … [It is an] incredibly important priority.”
The president is expected to pitch his amnesty Friday at a majority-Latino school in Las Vegas, and then fly up to Chicago, where he’ll pitch the amnesty to a friendly audience of long-standing allies.
The Chicago trip might also allow him to make his case to the African-American base in Illinois that gave him his start in politics.
The trip will also help him shore up support from Democratic legislators, a handful of whom have announced their opposition to his amnesty plan.
Many Democratic legislators have offered tepid support for his plan, or stayed quiet, even as Republican unit to denounce his unprecedented amnesty of five million foreigners.
The campaign will use digital media to focus on younger voters, said Pfeiffer.
Obama has recognized the unpopularity of his decision, which provides up to five million illegals with work permits and many on a fast-track to citizenship, despite laws that bar illegals from working in the United States.
“We don’t like the notion that anyone might get a free pass to American citizenship,” he said in his 8 p.m. speech from the White House.
“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.
Since 2000, median wages have been flat, and the number of native-born Americans with jobs has not risen.
Some Republicans are pushing back.
“Make no mistake … [executive amnesty] will pull down the wages of working Americans, will make jobs harder for them to find,” Sen. Jeff Sessions said in a Fox News interview after Obama’s speech. “We need to defend the average working American. Somebody needs to defend them for a change instead of business groups and activist groups.”
That fairness argument is getting some traction.
“What does the President have to say to the millions of Americans who still can’t find work in this economy?” said a Nov. 20 statement from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“The President can’t reach across the aisle to secure a serious jobs plan for them, but he’s willing to put everything he’s got into this one executive action?” said the statement.
However, McConnell’s statement did not outline a clear plan to stop funding of Obama’s amnesty.
The fairness argument is already moving votes and polls toward the GOP.
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.
Polls indicate that an overwhelming majority of white Americans view illegal immigration as a serious problem,” said a Nov. 20 op-ed in The New York Times.
“Many white Americans see that America is changing, believe that immigration is driving many of the negative changes and know that one party stands largely on the side of immigrants while the other party stands largely in opposition,” said Zoltan L. Hajnal, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego.
“For many whites, this is a powerful motivation to vote Republican. … For the Democrats, the consequences are severe,” Hajnal wrote, partly because whites are 75 percent of the electorate. “Almost two-thirds of whites without a college degree voted for Republicans in the midterms; as recently as 1990, these voters overwhelmingly favored Democrats.”