Obama’s Political Will for Re-Election Trumps the Rule of Law
By David Landon
There is absolutely no question that the new Obama policy on immigration reform is political. The policy, announced on Friday, to prevent deportations of young undocumented immigrants is meant to appeal to the Latino voting block. Many Latinos have complained that Obama hasn’t done enough to fix the immigration system. The proposed action is an attempt to bypass Congress, and it is very likely unlawful. However, for President Obama, his own re-election trumps the rule of law.
Earlier this spring, the White House used its influence to impede any Democratic cooperation on legislation proposed by Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that would have allowed some children of illegal immigrants a chance to stay in the United States legally while pursuing college or military careers. Rubio’s plan would grant the children of undocumented immigrants a visa but not amnesty. The fact that Rubio’s name keeps coming up as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney, of course, had nothing to do with the White House decision to squash legislation designed to help these young Latinos. The proposal initially had bipartisan support. If you are the Democratic President, you can’t allow a Republican plan on immigration reform to prevail, especially during an election year.
At a meeting with DREAM-eligible students earlier this spring, Obama advisors Celia Munoz and Valerie Jarrett tried to discourage the young “dreamers” from embracing Rubio’s proposal. The White House disparaged the Rubio plan saying it put at risk the original DREAM Act, which laid out a specific path to citizenship. While the Rubio plan creates a legal status for these qualifying young people, it stops short of creating a special path to citizenship.
The Democratic plan is to find a way to citizenship for all of the nation’s illegal immigrants. They believe that the 10 to12 million here illegally will be a Democratic voting block. Since the President doesn’t have the Congressional support for the DREAM act, his policy change whereby a certain class of young Latinos will not be subject to deportation is less of a real policy plan and more of a promise of things to come for Latinos if he is re-elected.
The decision to not enforce the laws on the books through his “deferred action” can be eliminated by a President Romney on his first day in office. That fact isn’t lost on the eligible young Latinos who are the beneficiaries of this policy. They are being offered a temporary fix to their plight as opposed to the long-term solution being proposed by Sen. Rubio.
Rubio’s alternative to the DREAM Act would not provide citizenship, but would provide legal status, or a non-immigrant visa, for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were minors. They would also need to have no criminal record, have graduated from high school and have been accepted for admittance to a college. Rubio’s proposal would also allow permanent residency for military service. That part of the bill has almost unanimous support. After a period of time after graduating from college, the immigrant visa holders would be able to apply for a Green Card, or permanent residency. Then after another period, perhaps as much as 10 years, they would be eligible to apply for citizenship, entering the pool with all other applicants. Under Rubio’s proposed legislation, down the road these young people could become U.S. citizens without having to first return to the country from where their parents brought them. That’s a very important benefit that other illegal immigrants will not be afforded.
We are, by and large, compassionate people. We empathize with the plight of young Latinos who were brought to this country by their parents illegally when they were small children. We understand that it was their parents who broke the law, not these young people. While we acknowledge compassion for these Latino young people, there is a way to address the situation without creating additional incentives for the adults to continue the illegal behavior.
Living in the U.S. is already enough of an enticing incentive to cause men and women to take the dangerous course of sneaking into the U.S. If we give a leg up towards citizenship to the children of these illegal immigrants, we are further incentivizing illegal behavior and inviting more of it. Even for these young people who are here through no fault of their own, there is a price for their parents’ actions. The legislative proposal from Senator Rubio addresses these issues in a responsible way and puts these young Latinos in a safe zone until, after a period of time, they can apply for citizenship with everyone else seeking the freedoms that our country offers. America is freedom’s lifeboat and all are welcome. However the process of legal immigration, while imperfect, assures that freedom’s lifeboat won’t be swamped.
Obama knows that his “deferred action” policy is unlawful. Last year when addressing a group of DREAM Act advocates, he responded to their request that he bypass Congress with the following observation. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply, through executive order, ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.” The President was acknowledging that he didn’t have the power to do what he has now attempted to do. His desire for re-election has again trumped the rule of law.
David H. Landon is the former Chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party Central Committee. He can be reached at DaveLandon@DaytonCityPaper.com.