Government & Politics

Keeping Immigration Political

The Left has to keep the issue alive for political gain.

Sep. 15, 2014

Another summer is over, and another Barack Obama pledge is broken. Remember when he vowed to address immigration reform by summer’s end? Instead, the president announced last week that he will defer his action on deferred action for illegal immigrants until after the November election, hoping to stave off election losses for Democrat senators in difficult re-election fights. Since public perception on the issue is shifting in favor of the GOP, those desperate to hold the Senate prevailed on Obama to wait.

Of course, by playing to one side of the political arena, Obama has to soothe the bruised egos on the other side, the ones who believed he would follow through on their dream of allowing millions of undocumented Democrat voters across the border. So last week, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough was dispatched to a meeting of members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to listen to their complaints and try and convince them whatever is up Obama’s sleeve will be worth the wait, saying the president would “go as far as he could under existing law.”

But at least one member was unconvinced. “I don’t want to go down this path come November and then for some other reason find that the immigrant community and the Latino community get thrown in the heap again,” grumbled Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

Signs abound that Obama is already placating the pro-amnesty side, though. For example, deportations continue to decline in part because the overwhelmed system cannot keep up with the demand of illegal immigrants for non-existent “permisos.” Out of an estimated 59,000 in the latest wave of border-crashers, just 319 have been returned to Central America, according to the Associated Press. There’s no question word of this lax enforcement has spread to those countries.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department recently warned Yuma County, Arizona – which has had a successful “get-tough” policy on illegals called Operation Streamline – that it would no longer prosecute first-time border crossers. (Interestingly enough, Rep. Grijalva represents a portion of Yuma County, which is in the southwest corner of the state.) These actions further cement the pro-amnesty reputation Obama has earned thanks to his lack of action on securing the border.

Over the last half-century, multiple bipartisan attempts have been made to address the immigration issue, with the most radical being the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which eliminated quotas by nation in favor of the current family-based approach, and the Simpson-Mazzoli Act of 1986 that granted amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants who could prove they had been here and otherwise law-abiding since 1982. Those changes led to the current situation.

Earlier this summer, immigration looked like the biggest issue for November, but ISIL’s entry into the Long War, Russian aggression and a stagnant economy also will have an impact.

Yet as we look forward to 2016, pushing back any executive action on amnesty beyond this year’s midterms will obviously affect the presidential race, and a number of Democrats may be seeing this political football as one worth keeping around. It’s another example of how our government works: Solving problems only means your reason for existence disappears, so the best course of action is to perpetuate your justification.

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