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Obama's Failed Promise on Immigration Reform

Monday, 30 April 2012 12:04 PM Current | Bio | Archive

President Barack Obama has failed to accomplish the immigration reform he promised to achieve in the first year of his presidency.

In a July 2010 address at American University in Washington, D.C., Obama outlined the comprehensive immigration reform legislation he would have the Congress pass:

President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano check confiscated items during a 2011 visit to a U.S. border post.
(Getty Images)
He said, “we don’t do a very good job tracking who comes in and out of the country as visitors; large numbers avoid immigration laws simply by overstaying their visas.”

The president went on to propose better tracking of foreign tourists and, for illegal aliens not here on vacation, something akin to amnesty.

While identifying the problem as lax border security, he was vague on legislative fixes. Much of his speech was a rehash of the ill-fated McCain-Kennedy immigration bill of 2007.

At the time of his American University speech, Democrats had control of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as they had since the Obama inauguration in 2009. Why was no action taken on immigration in those halcyon days of total Democrat control? That has to be the question in the minds of Hispanic voters (legal and illegal) who voted for Obama.

In response, the president delivered his American University speech on immigration to appease the Hispanic voters who elected him. His words came off as pure politics with no practical solutions to the problems posed by up to 30 million illegal aliens.

Since his 2008 campaign rhetoric promising comprehensive immigration reform in his first year as president to his vague promises at American University in 2010, to today as Obama continues to offer vague promises of comprehensive immigration reform.

Many Hispanic voters, however, are growing weary of his unfulfilled promises, such as those he made during an April 2012 interview on Univision, a Spanish language television network. Appearing on Univision’s “Al Punto” show, Obama stated, “I can promise that I will try to do it [comprehensive immigration reform] in my first year of my second term.” “La Promesa de Obama,” his promise to achieve immigration reform during his first year as president, has proved empty.

After hearing the president on Univision, one Hispanic lady observed, “The bloom is off the rose.”

An April 2012 Pew Hispanic Center Report opines that Mexican immigration has subsided for various reasons, including a poor U.S. economy, poor job market, lower Mexican birthrate, better border control, and a better Mexican economy.

If true, lower numbers of Mexican immigrants (legal and illegal) could affect any new immigration reform legislation. Some migration experts are cautious, suggesting a strong U.S. economic recovery and a faltering Mexican economy hampered by drug cartel wars might reignite a large illegal migration to the USA.

Meanwhile, years of patchwork fixes and ill-conceived revisions of U.S. immigration laws are largely the work of Democrat Congresses, dating from 1965 to the present.

The nation sat back and watched in amazement that even with complete control of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats made no effort to achieve immigration reform.

Clearly, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada wants no controversial votes in the Senate for fear that the 23 Democrat senators up for re-election in 2012 might pay at the polls if they vote for an immigration bill that sounds a lot like amnesty.

Meanwhile, existing U.S. immigration laws are not being enforced. Take for example, the Immigration, Reform, and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) that introduced employer sanctions and added border control provisions.

The Democrat-controlled Congress at the time said that IRCA would correct immigration problems. It has not. No matter the wording of the legislation, if an immigration law is not enforced, it is meaningless.

The president’s vision of comprehensive immigration reform would require illegal aliens seeking citizenship to admit they broke U.S. immigration law, to register, to pay back taxes, to pay a fine, and to learn English.

How would aliens with criminal records be registered? How would back taxes be computed? How would indigent aliens pay back taxes and fines?

Who would pay for the aliens to learn English and what degree of competency would be accepted? Would those who oppose making English the national language, suddenly change their stripes? What would this all cost the taxpayers?

Today 70 percent of Americans oppose amnesty — the same number who opposed the McCain-Kennedy legislation. Thus Democrats are forced to consider where most Americans stand on immigration reform. Otherwise, they would have pushed immigration reform as they did Obamacare.

Although the president may see this 70 percent of Americans as not being “smart” enough to know what is best for the country, he continues to put off comprehensive immigration reform, along with federal budgets.

In the upcoming elections, Democrats may find Hispanic voters thinking, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”

James H. Walsh was associate general counsel with the U.S. Department of Justice Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1983 to 1994. Read more reports from James Walsh — Click Here Now.

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Monday, 30 April 2012 12:04 PM
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