President Obama will deliver another worthless speech this morning. Don’t take my word for that. The open-borders lobby itself has such “low expectations” that some of its activists are wishing for the days of open-borders Bush.
The White House says it won’t offer any specific policy proposals. But there will be plenty of paeans paid to “comprehensive immigration reform” — second only to “hope and change” as the most vapid, emptiest rhetorical construction in Washington.
With Janet Clownitano in charge at DHS and sovereignty-undermining staffers like illegal alien sanctuary coddler Harold Hurtt and Arizona-bashing ICE chief John Morton, Obama’s appointments tell us all we need to know about his substantive disregard for secure borders and homeland security.
I said on Fox and Friends this morning that it feels like a 2006 time warp. Expect Obama’s speech leading into the Independence Day weekend to channel many of the same open-borders “nation of immigrants” platitudes George W. Bush/Karl Rove peddled before pushing mass amnesty.
Democracy in America at The Economist:
NOT having expected much from the president’s speech today on immigration reform, I don’t have occasion to be disappointed, but still, here I am, drinking a cup of tea and staring forlornly at the drips of rain falling in Austin. Pleasantries, pats on the back to the administration, a long bit of boilerplate about how great immigrants have been for the country, some discussion of the ways in which the current system is broken, some discussion of the tensions on both sides, references to a few points that enjoy broad support: the border should be secured, there’s no way to deport all the illegal immigrants who are here, but maybe we can make them pay fines, and there should be a crackdown on workplaces that knowingly employ and exploit undocumented workers.
“Being an American is not a matter of blood or birth, it’s a matter of faith,” President Obama declared at a speech he gave on immigration.
Obama also blamed “resentment” to new immigrants to poor economic conditions.
“Now, we can’t forget that this process of immigration and eventual inclusion has often been painful. Each new wave of immigrants has generated fear and resentment towards newcomers, particularly in times of economic upheaval,” Obama said.
We know what Obama meant in this passage — a similarity to those who have expressed the notion that they were Americans before ever setting foot in the US, thanks to their love of liberty. However, the people expressing that concept came to the US through legal immigration, and didn’t presume to break our laws in order to express their desire to live in freedom. They understood that the aspirational concept of being American and the legal status of American citizenship (or even residency) are two completely different things.
Besides, if being an American is a matter of faith, then the religion in question is devotion to the rule of law. We have created the laws by which we live through representative democracy within a framework set by our Constitution. Breaking the law to get into the country isn’t an expression of faith; using Obama’s construct, it’s actually heresy.
Obama and his open-borders allies attempt to blur the difference between illegal and legal immigration. Almost no one of consequence opposes the latter. Everyone of the “faith” of Americanism should insist on enforcing the laws against the former. Unfortunately, this President — and many of those who have come before him — have proven rather faithless in this task.
Suzy Khimm at Mother Jones:
The cynic’s take would be that Obama’s speech was simply meant to throw a bone to Latinos in advance of the midterm election in hopes of riling up their enthusiasm for Democrats. I don’t doubt that politics played a part in terms of the timing of the address. But I also think it was meant to appease the immigration advocates who’ve been pounding down the White House’s door since the beginning of the administration. The one piece of legislation that Obama mentioned in his speech was the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to legalization for some illegal immigrants who finished college or served in the military. In recent months, activists have rallied around the bill, holding hunger strikes and sit-ins by illegal immigrant students. The case of Eric Balderas, the Harvard student and aspiring cancer researcher who was detained by immigration authorities, provided new political momentum for the bill.
“We should make room for ‘best and the brightest’…to contributes their talents to the country,” Obama said. “The DREAM Act would do this—which is why I supported it as a state legislator and senator, and why I continue to support this as president.” The bill clearly resonated with the other major themes of Obama’s speech: it rewards the most motivated immigrants who’ve committed themselves to a future in the US and already has bipartisan support in the Senate. Detractors argue that passing a stand-alone bill would be elitist—rewarding only those who’ve already made it to Harvard, for instance—and would sap momentum from passing a comprehensive overhaul. But given the dim chances of passing such an overhaul in the near future, Obama may be signaling a desire to go after more incremental reform measures in the meantime.
Daniel Griswold at Cato:
While the president called for comprehensive reform, he neglected to advocate the expansion of legal immigration in the future through a temporary or guest worker program for low-skilled immigrants. Even his own Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, has said such a program is the necessary “third leg” of immigration reform, the other two being legalization of undocumented workers already here and vigorous enforcement against those still operating outside the system.
As I’ve pointed out plenty of times, without accommodation for the ongoing labor needs of our country, any reform would repeat the failures of the past. In 1986, Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which legalized 2.7 million workers already here illegally, while beefing up enforcement. But without a new visa program to allow more low-skilled workers to enter legally in future years, illegal immigration just began to climb again to where, two decades later, we are trying once again to solve the same problem.
On the plus side, President Obama reminded his audience of the important role immigrants play in our open and dynamic country. And he rightly linked immigration reform to securing our borders:
“[T]here are those who argue that we should not move forward with any other elements of reform until we have fully sealed our borders. But our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work. Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists, but also the hundreds of thousands who attempt to cross each year simply to find work.
Unfortunately, given the political climate in Washington, an election looming only four months away, and the president’s unwillingness to press for an essential element of successful reform, the illegal immigration problem will still be on the agenda when a new Congress comes to town in 2011.
Gabriel Arana at Tapped:
Meanwhile, the Hispanic community remains frustrated with the pace of reform, as the situation for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country deteriorates. And talk, no matter what the frame, is becoming a joke. Bloggers at VivirLatino commemorated the speech with a drinking game: a shot for “reaching across the aisle,” a Jell-O shot for “nation of immigrants.” But sit it out for “secure the border.” And drink straight from the bottle for “back of the line.”