This latest effort by our elected officials in Washington comes in the midst of the "reimagining" of our country in a "Social Democratic" regime. That's Charles Krauthammer's explanation, and, regarding our President's plans, it seems to be the best of them out there. Because of the high profile of those involved in this reinvigoration of the issue of immigration, I thought I'd take another look at it.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 is the starting spot for our current law. Two major revisions, the Immigration Amendments of 1965 and the Immigration Act of 1990 have brought us to the point where we are now. According to the Congressional Research Service, there are four pillars to our existing policy. They are the reunification of families, the admission of immigrants with needed skills, the protection of refugees, and the diversity of admissions by country of origin. The final three issues are not really the issues under scrutiny at this time, leaving us with the repercussions of the first of the grouping.
The issue of family reunification is a difficult one, and has a similar argument to that of the parent stealing food from a supermarket because they can't feed their children. In essence, "Why should we punish someone who is doing what they feel they have to do for the survival of their family?" The first answer to that question comes down to the issue of citizenship alone. It is the responsibility of a country to provide conditions conducive to the retention of their citizens. If they aren't doing this, then we are not the default solution. Look at the blood spilled through the centuries by people demanding a stronger voice in their governance, including the creation of a viable and robust economy and freedom within their state. Our country should be encouraging other countries to allow their citizens to prosper under freedom, not throwing open the door for them.
On June 15, 2012, in what I see as a purely political action to attend to a voting bloc, the Department of Homeland Security issued their Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Now, like everything with the Federal government, this process isn't easy. But there are plenty of young lawyers and the like who are interested in bringing as many people through this process as possible, especially in large urban areas. A number of states, including my own, are giving driver's licenses to those who qualify under this status.
The fact that they are illegal immigrants should create a larger natural road block. However, since the 2012 election and the running of the numbers of Hispanics and Latinos by the Democrats, this has become the cause of the day for both sides. Many Democrats see this as the beginning of a permanent voter bloc and Republicans (except for Senator Rubio) are concerned about the same. Senator Rubio's thought process is that these newly accepted immigrants will find the virtue in the policies of the GOP, rather than those of Democrats. He has a better view of that issue than I do, but I just can't see that happening.
Illegal immigration, by itself, is somewhere in the broad area between jaywalking and murder. Because of the sociological, economic and political implications, though, it has a very prominent place at the national table of discussion. I can think of the breaking of no other "major" law, which is desired to be forgiven as easily as illegal immigration. An additional justification is that violation of US Immigration law is a civil and not a criminal offense. Still, though, it is a violation of federal law.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is one of the leads in an effort to reform immigration law. As detailed in this article from rollcall.com, he has a particularly tough sell ahead of him, and particularly to his own party. Most of that reason is because the GOP doesn't trust that the Obama Administration will deal on an immigration+security deal to beef up security along our Southern border, particularly. They had the rug pulled out from under them when Ronald Reagan was president. Similar to the tax/spend deal that George H. W. Bush had with Democrats, Reagan agreed to amnesty for some 3 million undocumented immigrants, only to have the promise made for increased security be withdrawn.
A continued weak economy also makes it a difficult sell, especially to members of labor unions. The outright legalization of 11 million undocumented immigrants on day one puts additional American jobs at risk in a foundering economy. Interestingly, "Big Labor" seems to have little problem with a major overhaul of immigration law, particularly because it delays or even creates disincentives for entry into the labor market. What they DON'T want is a "robust guest worker program", as a blog on Communities at WashingtonTimes.com notes.
I don't believe our country should be working on changing immigration laws when we aren't even enforcing the ones we have on the books. Similar ideas, on much smaller scales, would be changing a speed limit because no one abides by it anyway, or legalizing marijuana because it's no worse than the legal drugs available and at our disposal. It just doesn't make sense. Just because so many people break the law doesn't mean we should change the law. We should be funding and executing the true enforcement of current immigration law, unlike what our Congress and Executive Branch have done to this point. There is no way we can negatively judge where we are now, because we have not invested the requisite time and effort into doing it right in the first place.
President Obama sees the very weak bipartisan coalition formed around the idea-the concept-of immigration, but there are some defining issues and personalities that make this a fragile coalition. However, unlike his other "signature" efforts of his administration, namely "Cap and Trade" and "Obamacare," this one has the possibility of panning out. However, I predict that when the President sees the potential of a GOP fall apart, he'll do his "bull in a china shop" routine and try to force the entirety of his version of a "DREAM Act" through by executive fiat. This, combined with the current legal challenges to DACA will make true, bipartisan and comprehensive immigration reform a near impossibility during President Obama's second term.
Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus" is engraved inside the lower level of the Statue of Liberty. In part it reads, Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!" At the time of the dedication of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor, our country was only 110 years old. Fewer than 75 million people lived in our country. In order to grow, we required teems of immigrant labor, and our combined public and private organizations provided opportunity to people from around the world. In a 21st Century with a population more than four times that of 1886, where the elected Executive seems bent on a Social Democratic agenda, which nationalizes everything from compensation (unemployment) to commerce (EPA rules), we need to understand that the capacity of the federal government has been exceeded, and the very ability of our country to function properly is being called into question. We do nothing but harm ourselves by trying to imagine that we live in a 19th Century world.