WASHINGTON July 1, 2014 — Immigration now has the honor of becoming the most recent political football career politicians are throwing around Washington. While the nation gets ready to skip work, or call in sick for the US v. Belgium World Cup game, politicians in our nation’s capital are getting ready for the next half of their own game. The immigration game.
The team with the most possession time, and the most points, during this particular period of the immigration game is undoubtedly President Obama, and the Democratic party.
Recently, President Obama vowed to move on immigration reform through executive means, because Congress wasn’t playing nice. Upset that the President actually does not have as much power as he wants it to have, President Obama has ordered his cabinet to “get creative” in thinking about ways that the Administration can unilaterally affect immigration reform.
Back when the House, the Senate, and the White House were all controlled by the Democratic Party. Back when every branch of government necessary for the passage of laws was thoroughly blue. Back when they could pass any piece of legislation they wanted.
What a perfect time, when they controlled literally every important aspect of federal government, to pass comprehensive immigration reform and enact amnesty towards all illegal immigrants in the country. What a perfect time it would have been for them to enact various programs to assure that illegal immigrants were not deported but looked after. What a perfect time it would have been, for Democrats to follow through on years of promise to their immigrant constituents.
What did they choose to do instead? They chose to pass legislation that completely transformed the American healthcare system, and assume one sixth of the American economy into the government sphere of control.
And then nothing on immigration.
The answer is twofold, and brutally simple.
First, seat retainage.
Offering amnesty to millions of illegal aliens while millions more waited patiently in line to go through the process legally would have been extremely unpopular with even independent voters. If a Congress completely controlled by Democrats passed both comprehensive immigration reform AND the Affordable Healthcare Act, the Democrats would never have maintained control of the Senate, and they could have lost the White House in 2012. Those two particular progressive tidbits of legislation would have been too much for the country to swallow at once. The Conservative groups would have gained far more strength, and far more support if immigration and healthcare reform was adopted during that session.
Second, and most important, leverage.
When it comes down to it, immigration reform is far too powerful a weapon to simply give up through the legislative process. The Democrats passed the ACA, they got their big win for the foreseeable future, there was no need to push their luck. So they put immigration reform in a bag, and when they feel like the Republicans are growing too strong, or they are making too much noise, or gathering too much support, they open the bag and beat them over the head with immigration.
The issue of immigration is the perfect weapon for Democrats to knock Republicans down a peg. Opposing immigration reform seems cold and heartless, or at least that is what the liberal media spins to the public. Opposing immigration reform drives a wedge between Republicans and Latinos, a rift which hurts the Republicans who are scrambling to expand their voter base. And so when the Democrats tried to bring immigration reform to the floor in the House, they knew it would be blocked by the Republicans and an ever polarizing Conservative base. And when they brought it to the Senate, they knew that it would not pass with so many Democratic senators up for reelection in states where being soft on immigration is a career killer.
By introducing immigration in this climate the Democrats are doing significant damage to the national image of the Republicans. They are aware that nothing will pass, that is why they introduced the idea of legislation at this point in time in the first place. It was not going to pass, but they needed to look like they were making an effort, and that it was the big bad Republicans fault for hating grandmothers and pretty colors and happiness for not passing immigration reform.
Now the stage is set for the President to swoop in and be the hero, at least nominally. As Congress “bickers” over immigration reform, and the Democrats fight valiantly for its passage, President Obama steps forward and promises to take the lead in the fight. Donning his unilateral cape, and with his unilateral pen, and his unilateral phone, President Obama takes on immigration reform on his own.
There really isn’t a downside to this for the President. Anything he does will cement his legacy as a President who went above and beyond, circumventing that pesky body of elected legislative officials, to enact policies that no one else had the gumption to! If he succeeds in affecting some change, he will be lauded for his bravery and his intellect, and the media will swoon over him more so than usual. If he fails to affect any change, he will say that he fought the good fight, but in the end he is disappointed that Congress failed to act on this. And then he will go play ten rounds of golf while someone considers him for another award.
The truth is, the Democrats don’t want to pass immigration reform. If they wanted to pass immigration reform they would have done it in the first two years of the Administration. The issue is too valuable for the Democratic party to surrender to legislation, and possible lawsuit. There is no guarantee that immigration legislation once enacted will stay enacted. If they pass it, they can no longer use it as an issue to throw gas on the fire of their constituency. If you are seeking comprehensive immigration reform from this president, or this Congress, don’t hold your breath. That particular ball is far too valuable to be taken off the field and put into a trophy case.
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