Monday, June 18, 2012

Obama Steps Up On Immigration

On Friday the President signed an executive order which will stop the deportation of young illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria outlined in the failed “Dream Act.”  The action is intended to open a path to citizenship for those individuals who, as children were brought into this country illegally by their parents. 
Republicans criticized the President’s order as a political stunt designed to pander to the immigrant communities during an election year.  “He could have done this anytime during the past three and a half years.  Why now?  The answer seems pretty evident.”
Mitt Romney, appearing on CBS’s “Face the Nation, said the President was playing politics and questioned why the President was ordering this “temporary” action now instead of finding a permanent solution when Democrats controlled the White House and both houses of Congress.  Romney was asked several times by host Bob Schieffer if he would repeal the President’s order if elected.  Romney refused to be pinned down.
Was the President playing politics in issuing this executive order?  Absolutely!  The White House saw an opportunity to cement their relationship with the immigrant communities and they took it.  It is also true that the President could have taken this action at any time during the past three and a half years.  However what is not true is the assertion that the President has not made any effort to find a permanent solution to the immigration problem.
The “Dream Act” was introduced by Democrats Dick Durbin and Orin Hatch on August 1, 2001.  Since that time it has been repeatedly re-introduced by Democrats only to see it blocked by Republicans.  As recently as December 8, 2010 the House of Representatives passed the Dream Act only to have Republicans block it in the Senate.
Romney’s slippery response to Schieffer’s questioning is typical Romney.  When Romney was trying to win the Republican nomination he had no trouble pandering to the far right.  His solution to the illegal immigration problem was simple:  round them up and send them home.  He coupled this simplistic approach with a call for stronger boarders and “self-deportation”?  But now that the nomination is secure he has tempered his rhetoric so as not to alienate immigrants.  Romney’s stance on immigration…like many other core issues…is hard to pin down.
The President boxed Romney into a corner on this one.  He used his executive power to overcome an obstructionist Congress and he made Romney look bad in the process.  Such are the ways of polictics.
In the end, one million young people who were brought here illegally through no fault of their own, now have an opportunity to become productive American citizens.  That’s a good thing. 

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