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Michael Barone
Michael Barone
29 Aug 2014
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Obama's Hypocritical Rhetoric on Immigration Reform

Comment

Barack Obama's immigration speech in El Paso May 10 was an exercise in electioneering and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy because while Obama complained about "politicians" blocking comprehensive immigration bills, he was one of them himself.

In 2007, when such a bill was backed by a lame duck Republican president and had bipartisan backing from Senate heavyweights Edward Kennedy and Jon Kyl, Sen. Obama voted for union-backed amendments that Kennedy and Kyl opposed as bill-killers.

In 2009 and 2010, President Obama acquiesced in Speaker Nancy Pelosi's decision to pass cap-and-trade and bypass immigration and in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's decision not to bring an immigration bill to the floor.

Both times the votes were probably there to pass a bill. Obama did not lift a finger to help.

But that did not stop the president who is constantly calling for civility to heap scorn on those who seek stronger enforcement. "They'll want a higher fence. Maybe they'll need a moat," he said to laughter from the largely Latino audience. "Maybe they'll want alligators in the moat. They'll never be satisfied."

Was that on the teleprompter, or was it ad-libbed? In either case, Obama was showing his contempt for those who bitterly cling to the idea that the law should be enforced.

That's no way to assemble the bipartisan coalition necessary to pass an immigration bill.

It's obvious that nothing like the legalization (opponents say "amnesty") provisions considered in 2007 can pass in this Congress. They can never pass the Republican House, where Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith is a longstanding opponent and Speaker John Boehner will not schedule a bill not approved in committee.

Nor will this Congress pass the most attractive proposal Obama mentioned, the Dream Act, providing a path to legalization for those brought in illegally as children who enroll in college or serve in the military. That failed last December in a more Democratic Senate and won't pass now.

Some new approach is needed, and Obama did little to point the way. One idea, advanced by a bipartisan Brookings Institution panel, is a bill that would strengthen enforcement and would shift the U.S. away from low-skill and toward high-skill immigration.

Canada and Australia have done this to their great benefit.

And with a sluggish economy it makes little sense, as current law does, to give preference to low-skill siblings of minimum wage workers rather than to engineering and science Ph.D.s. We need more job creators, not more job seekers.

The problem here is that the lobbying forces backing comprehensive legislation don't favor such an approach. Latino groups and lobbies representing employers of low-skill workers are interested in legalizing the low-skill Latinos who make up the majority of the 11 million illegal immigrants.

High-tech firms seek more H-1B visas for high-skill graduates, but these tie immigrants to particular employers. They don't have an interest in provisions allowing these people to work for anyone they don't like or to start their own businesses, as they can in Canada and Australia.

In the absence of significant lobbying support, the only way to provide support for Brookings-style legislation is a bold presidential initiative advertising it as a clean break from past proposals.

Obama didn't come close to doing that in El Paso. He included a few words about letting in more high-skill folks, but didn't suggest any reduction in low-skill immigration.

And he said only a few words about workplace enforcement on which his administration has developed a valuable new tool.

That's a refinement of the E-Verify electronic system now available in which employers can verify the Social Security numbers of new employees.

The Department of Homeland Security has been ironing out glitches in E-Verify and, as former National Security Agency general counsel Stewart Baker reports, DHS now allows job-seekers in some states to use E-Verify before applying for a job not only to check their status but also to protect against identity theft.

The administration has been attacking state laws requiring employers to use E-Verify. If Obama were serious about enforcement, he would be calling for mandatory E-Verify. That would be a more effective tool against illegal immigration than even the strongest border enforcement.

But as Obama's record makes clear, he's not really interested in passing a law. He knows his support has been slipping among Latino voters, and he wants to goose it back up. El Paso was all about election 2012, not serious immigration reform.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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Comments

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IF MR. OR MS. DOWN-THE-STREET UPHELD THE "RIGHT" OF ANYONE TO BREAK THE LAWS OF THIS NATION AND USED HIS/HER GOVERNENTAL POSITION TO APPLAUD FEDERAL LAW BREAKERS REGARDING IMMIGRATION, WOULD THE FBI PUT THEIR NAMES IN LITTLE BLACK BOOKS AS SUBVERSIVES AND POTENTIAL REVOLUTIONARY ANARCHISTS? IS A STATEMENT THAT "THE RIO GRANDE IS JUST AS GOOD AS ELLIS ISLAND"-- UPHOLDING THE LAWS OF THE USA -- AS REQUIRED BY PRESIDENTIAL OATH? IS IT THE AMERICAN WAY TO TRAMPLE THE CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATES FOR THE SINGLE AND SOLITARY PURPOSE OF ADDING HUGE NUMBERS TO HIS POLITICAL VOTER LIST? SHOULD A RADICAL POLITICIAN BE ALLOWED TO TRIVIALIZE FEDERAL LAW WITH PATENT SCORN, APART FROM A CALL DOWN FROM THE AMERICAN PEOPLE-- BY THEIR CONGRESSIONAL KEEPERS OF THE LAW? IT IS ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THAT THIS JUDEO/CHRISTIAN NATION WILL NOT LOAD UP, AND BUS MOTHERS AND CHILDREN TO MEXICAN DUMP SITES. BUT NEITHER CAN WE PLEAD FOR OTHER IMMIGRANT CRIMINALS TO DO AS THESE DID BY DOING NOTHING PUNITIVE FOR SERIOUS FEDERAL LAWLESSNESS. A STEP TOWARD ONE CONGRESSIONAL, PARTIAL SOLUTION, WOULD BE TO ENACT LEGISLATION REQUIRING THESE PEOPLE WAIT 10 ADDITIONAL YEARS, BEFORE CITIZENSHIP AND A CONCURRENT PERIOD OF 15-18 YEARS BEFORE VOTING RIGHTS ARE AVAILABLE. I AM RATHER CERTAIN THAT MR. OBAMA AND HIS PARTY WOULD TRY TO SQUELCH THIS IDEA, PROVING THEIR ONLY INTEREST IS SELF INTEREST. A TWO YEAR MORATORIUM ON ALL IMMIGRATION SHOULD BE MANDATED TO PROVIDE TIME FOR A CONGRESSIONAL ASSESSMENT LIMITING IMMIGRANTS, INCLUDING RATIONAL CONCERNS ABOUT ENTRY OF THOSE POPULATIONS WHO CONSIDER OUR NATION A COUNTRY THAT DESERVES REVOLUTION-- POLITICAL OR SOCIO-RELIGIOUS. ANOTHER THING THAT IS ALSO CERTAIN: THE FAIRNESS TO THE TAXED AND CONCERNS FOR MAINTAINING A PRO-AMERICAN, FREEDOM LOVING NATION, CANNOT BE MAINTAINED THROUGH ATTEMPTS TO ASSIMILATE UNLIMITED NEW SETTLERS. THE GREATER PORTION OF THE CURRENT FLOW ARE THE DECENT POOR, LOOKING FOR JOBS, WHERE 15% OF THEIR DESTINATION ARE JOBLESS THEMSELVES. WE CANNOT PERMIT, IN THE INTEREST OF BLIND, SUICIDAL "POLITICAL CORRECTNESS" TO ALLOW THE NOISY TO COMPEL US TO OVERLOOK THE REALITIES OF NATIONAL SURVIVAL. AND THE FUTURES OF OUR CHILDREN AND THEIR CHILDREN.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Ray harbin
Mon May 16, 2011 5:44 AM
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