Friday, August 19, 2011

Breaking News: Immigration Reform

In news that is sure to please some supporters of "immigration reform", the Obama Administration announced that it was suspending deportation proceedings against "non-criminal" illegal immigrants in order to focus on the "criminal" element. Link to complete NYT Article.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Thursday that it would suspend deportation proceedings against many illegal immigrants who pose no threat to national security or public safety. The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.
White House and immigration officials said they would exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to focus enforcement efforts on cases involving criminals and people who have flagrantly violated immigration laws. Under the new policy, the secretary of homeland security, Janet Napolitano, can provide relief, on a case-by-case basis, to young people who are in the country illegally but pose no threat to national security or to the public safety.
The decision would, through administrative action, help many intended beneficiaries of legislation that has been stalled in Congress for a decade. The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Senate Democrat, has argued that “these young people should not be punished for their parents’ mistakes."  The action would also bolster President Obama’s reputation with Latino voters as he heads into the 2012 election. Just a week ago the leaders of major Hispanic organizations criticized his record, saying in a report that Mr. Obama and Congress had “overpromised and underdelivered” on immigration and other issues of concern to Latino voters, a major force in some swing states.
As many readers no doubt are aware I don't support either normalizing work status or putting illegal immigrants on a "path to citizenship". I know that's a minority view here but that's fine. I could be wrong. I don't say no to that. If "normalization" or "reform" were truly the will of the American people as expressed by their duly elected Representatives and Senators then I would have no choice but to accept it. I might mumble a bit but I'd accept it.
But this?
This looks like an end run around the law and appears to be another executive encroachment on Congress' role-just like the Libyan war. Aside from the capriciousness and obvious political self-interest of the Administration's decision there are at least four other reasons why I think this should give people pause.

  • We have 9.1% unemployment. Unemployment is even higher in the black community. Econ 101 and sheer self-interest indicate that we simply do not need additional workers in the economy now.
  • President Obama has once again caved to a particularly loud interest group that threatened to use its leverage. Surely his enemies must notice this but so will his friends. It's not a good look. 
  • We don't know who the unlawful residents are. They didn't undergo background checks or any of the other tests and verifications that legal immigrants have to endure.
  • People shouldn't ignore the law. It's the law it's not a suggestion. There are laws which I don't like but they are part of being an adult citizen. People obey these laws not only out of an internal belief that they are correct or at least guarantee the past of least resistance but also from the fact that breaking the law carries unpleasant consequences. But now we see that one group of people (of whom it bears repeating are not citizens and can't vote) have consistently refused to obey the law-not because they have any logical cogent rationale about why the law is unjust but because they find it inconvenient. Ok. Does that mean that a right-wing citizen who doesn't want to pay his income taxes (as many illegal immigrants do not) or purchase health care insurance, can refuse to do these things, if he or she finds enough likeminded people to raise a stink? We consent to be ruled by law in the belief that all are subject to it equally. That is of course an ideal not reality. But once anyone can pick and choose which laws she wants to obey, everyone else will clamor to do the same. The center won't hold.
But again, perhaps I am being melodramatic. Your call.

1) Do you think this is a good/moral move by the Administration? Why or why not?
2) Will this help the Administration with Hispanic voters? Hurt them with others?
3) What is the solution to unlawful entry/residence in the US?
4) If we are no longer going to deport people unless they are felonious, why bother with borders at all? Let's just let non-citizens decide how many people the US needs.
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