President Obama earlier today issued an executive order that would keep some younger illegal immigrants from being deported for two years as long as they meet certain requirements, which include having no criminal record and are either students or have served in the military. In any case, Republicans are calling this a political move designed by the Obama administration to curry favor with Hispanic constituents, and CNN analyzed the issue from that point of view this afternoon.
Of course, for members of the GOP to cry foul about the executive order is a bit disingenuous since more illegals were removed from the country last year — 396,906 — than in any other time in the history of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Obama administration has found more humane ways to tackle the problem than simply wrenching family members away from each other at work, as was the case many times under George W. Bush:
Employers say the audits reach more companies than the work-site roundups of the administration of President George W. Bush. The audits force businesses to fire every suspected illegal immigrant on the payroll— not just those who happened to be on duty at the time of a raid — and make it much harder to hire other unauthorized workers as replacements. Auditing is “a far more effective enforcement tool,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League, which includes many worried fruit growers. — “Illegal Workers Swept From Jobs in ‘Silent Raids“
Republicans have also called the order unconstitutional and a means to skirt congressional power. That argument also falls flat because the executive precedent offers many examples in which the president, for better or worse, has asserted his power to get things done in the face of a do-nothing House and Senate, which in Obama’s case includes almost the entire Republican Party. Since he got elected, they have cock-blocked nearly everything that he has tried to do to move the country out of the dark ages, including the stimulus and the health care bill. And as stupefying as it will be if it happens, Romney has said he will move to repeal the health care reform bill on day one in office. This from a guy who oversaw a similar plan in Massachusetts.
I don’t think anyone can make a case that Obama hasn’t been tough on immigration, nor that he issued the order just to get votes from the Hispanic community. He may have issued the order in part to get some votes, but certainly not exclusively since the order isn’t going to win him friends in some circles.
To that end, Sen. Dick Durbin was on point when he said:
… there will be those who vote against him because of this decision, too. That’s what leadership is about.
I don’t favor wholesale amnesty across the board. But the simple fact is that those that are here and working or going to school are not going to leave just because it’s illegal for them to be here. Conditions in Mexico are such that it is worth the risk to continue to live in America. They are, for all intent and purposes, just as much a part of American society as legal residents, and if they are working or going to school and not engaging in criminal activity, they are contributing positively to society. In essence, being an “illegal” amounts to a non-violent federal crime. It’s not akin to treason or any other high crime. Actually, it could be viewed as patriotic since immigrants are certainly not coming here because they hate America or want to cause trouble. They love the idea that America represents to them. On this issue, as on others like health care, the Republican point of view comes off as cold, callous and woefully out of touch.