LOS ANGELES, June 25, 2013 — In the heated illegal immigration debate, President Obama initially stayed on the sidelines. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have a working relationship. Their plan was to work together and present a plan the more conservative House could live with. Obama is now personally intervening, which could be the worst possible turn of events for supporters of a bill.
Illegal immigration is different from most issues. The argument is primarily about people, not about budgets, roads and materiel. Where there are people, there are politicians looking to exploit them in the name of compassion.
Canada’s border is an issue, but Mexico’s is a thornier problem. In Arizona, kidnappings, most of them border-related, have been reported at anywhere between 50 and 350 per year. The Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio areas have become major drug distribution hubs for Mexican drug gangs. Crime from across our Mexican border is a real and pressing issue.
At the same time, most Mexicans come to America to work hard and earn a better quality of life. They break the law by entering America illegally, but they are otherwise law abiding and hard workers. And they are often victims of those who exploit them for cheap labor, and who are able to abuse them with near impunity because of their status as illegal immigrants.
Both political parties deal with the issue cynically, though in different ways. Congressional Democrats seem to want as many Hispanic illegal immigrants as possible to be allowed to stay (thus encouraging even more to enter illegally) in order to ply them with social services. The payoff is capturing Hispanic votes for a generation. Democrats traditionally favor bigger government, and they see Mexicans as an instrument to augment the welfare dependency state. Illegal immigrants already pay heavily into federal coffers; by returning services to them (which could be argued in the name of equity), they guarantee that these taxpayers will also support the programs paid for with their taxes.
The Republican position is much more straightforward; they don’t want an influx of Mexicans for the same reasons that Democrats want them. Republicans do not want more Mexicans because they will vote Democrat.
Republican opposition to new immigrants is primarily political, not racial. The discussion has become poisoned, however, because too many Democrats play the race card. If the real issue is votes, for Democrats, votes often come down to race.
Obama cannot bridge the divide because he has resorted to the very demagoguery that makes it tougher to pass legislation. Additionally, his entire rationale for passing a bill is because he demands it.
“The time for excuses is over.”
He has said this before.
“This bipartisan, common-sense bill will help the middle class grow our economy and shrink our deficits, by making sure that every worker in America plays by the same set of rules and pays taxes like everyone else.”
No evidence supports this claim. In fact, illegal immigrants are large net contributors to federal tax collections. They pay Social Security taxes, for instance, but are ineligible to collect the benefits. Making them legal would expand deficits in entitlements, not shrink them.
Obama has a poor track record in predicting economic and fiscal benefits from his programs. He promised his stimulus plan would reduce unemployment to below 5 percent. Unemployment remains over 7.5 percent, and labor force participation (a better measure of the true jobs situation) remains near historic lows.
Obama promised that Obamacare would reduce the deficit and provide better and less expensive care. The effects have been the exact opposite, and that is before Obamacare’s most costly measures fully take effect.
Obama may not have deliberately lied, but even the most charitable interpretation of his presidency shows his prognostications to be wildly inaccurate. Accepting his illegal immigration solutions on blind faith cannot happen based on his track record.
Worse, Obama has a history of waffling on his word when negotiating with Congress. Speaker John Boehner, no wild-eyed radical, claimed that the 2010 budget deal collapsed at the last minute because Obama reneged on agreed-upon new tax figures and demanded a 50 percent increase. Obama never completely denied the charge, and the Republican account was largely supported by the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward.
On illegal immigration, Republicans already agreed to a past deal that turned out to be smoke and mirrors. Democrats would get amnesty for those already here, and Republicans would get border security and an end to additional illegal immigrants. That was in 1986, and President Ronald Reagan admitted he was hoodwinked. Three million illegal immigrants received amnesty, and the border was never secured; now there are twelve million illegal immigrants.
Democrats from Obama to New York Senator Charles Schumer are threatening Republicans who oppose moving forward. Their narrative blames the GOP for the collapse of any deal and claims they desperately need a deal to avoid becoming a fringe minority party.
This is exactly backwards. Schumer is a tenacious liberal political operative. The last thing he wants is to help Republicans. Moving forward would split the GOP in half, pitting its Wall Street Journal wing against its Lou Dobbs wing.
The biggest falsehood is that this issue cannot wait. A reasonable question is, “why not?”
Nothing about this calls out for immediate action. Obama has a habit of defining every issue he agrees with to be urgent. When gun control stalls, he turns to climate change. Then he pivots to education. This week it is illegal immigration. With Obama drowning in scandals, his desperation for a deal seems motivated by his rational desire to save his presidency from crumbling.
Mexicans did not blow up the towers on 9/11. They are not a bigger threat than radical Islamists. Border security matters, but bigger problems actually require immediate attention. The economy remains stagnant, and the Middle East is exploding into flames. Talking about illegal immigration is not the most productive use of legislators’ time. Status quo may be unsustainable, but the world will survive if this is shelved until more pressing problems are solved.
Yet Obama again, as he did during past negotiations, is proving ideologically inflexible. He wants border security last, and conservatives cannot live with that hollow promise again.
Unless he can stop demonizing his political opponents, perhaps the best thing Obama can do is get out of the way and let others work out a deal they can live with, even if it troubles him. Otherwise, the entire effort could collapse. He will blame the GOP, but it will be his policy failure. He will have met the obstacle, and it will have been him.
Brooklyn born, Long Island raised, and now living in Los Angeles, Eric Golub is a politically conservative columnist, author, public speaker, satirist and comedian. Eric is the author of the book trilogy “Ideological Bigotry, “Ideological Violence,” and “Ideological Idiocy.”
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