Also on Obama's plate: an immigration bill
While acknowledging that the recession makes the political battle more difficult, President Barack Obama plans to begin addressing America's immigration system this year, including looking for a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, a senior administration official said Wednesday.
Obama will frame the new effort — likely to rouse passions on all sides of the highly divisive issue — as "policy reform that controls immigration and makes it an orderly system," said the official, Cecilia Munoz, deputy assistant to the president and director of intergovernmental affairs in the White House.
Obama plans to speak publicly about the issue in May, administration officials said, and over the summer he will convene working groups, including lawmakers from both parties and a range of immigration organizations, to begin discussing possible legislation for as early as this fall.
Some White House officials said immigration would not take precedence over the health care and energy proposals that Obama has identified as priorities. But the timetable is consistent with pledges that Obama made to Latino groups in last year's campaign.
He said then that comprehensive immigration legislation, including a plan to make legal status possible for an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants, would be a priority in his first year in office. Latino voters turned out strongly for Obama in the election.
I realize most of my readers are of the same mind as me in that they do not agree with this on a personal level. The question though is, is it a good idea politically?
Personally I think it's a grotesque idea. My main issue is that we are already losing enough jobs to outsourcing, now we're going to give the few jobs left in the US away? Then there is the issue of trust, I don't have any when it comes to Obama.
In broad outlines, officials said, the Obama administration favors legislation that would bring illegal immigrants into the legal system by recognizing that they violated the law, and imposing fines and other penalties to fit the offense. The legislation would seek to prevent future illegal immigration by strengthening border enforcement and cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants, while creating a national system for verifying the legal immigration status of new workers.
He has already suspended all of these activities by the federal government. He has made no move to strengthen the border. He has suspended raids of companies. When one was held and illegals were rounded up, officials in the administration got angry and not only released the captured workers but gave them permits to work here. So we are supposed to believe he is going to crack down on employers and verify legal immigration status? Excuse me if I am skeptical.
This post is supposed to be about the political ramifications though. I believe politically it's a bad idea.
The only real arguments for doing it this year are ideologically and to keep a campaign promise.
If his rationale for doing it is ideological, then maybe the best thing to do is wait. Sometimes patience is a real virtue. He has 4 years, he doesn't have to do all he wants in the first year. It may be better to wait until the political climate is better.
Although it could be argued that he does not have 4 years. The way the fortunes of the Dems have been going in the last month or so, Obama may be realizing he has until 2010 to complete his agenda with a friendly Congress in place. Historically President's lose seats in their first off year election. That combined with the Democratic brand taking a hit recently and some high profile Senators in early trouble, he could have a rough time after next year. Remember, the GOP does not have to retake the Senate to cause Obama a lot of headaches. They just have to get enough votes to sustain a filibuster to block legislation.
If his reasoning for pushing it this year is to keep a campaign promise, why bother? He has already broken most of his other campaign promises without any political casualty. He has one thing Republican Presidents do not have, a free pass from the press. Democratic President's don't have to keep campaign promises.
Those are the arguments for pushing the legislation. What about arguments against?
There is one real simple one. In the words of our brilliant Vice President Joe Biden, it's a three letter word, J-O-B-S.
There is strong sentiment against illegal immigration in the country already. If his opponents are able to frame the issue in the context of scarce American jobs being taken, Obama could have a huge political price to pay.
This was summed up nicely by the following:
"It just doesn't seem rational that any political leader would say, let's give millions of foreign workers permanent access to U.S. jobs when we have millions of Americans looking for jobs," said Roy Beck, executive director of NumbersUSA, a group that favors reduced immigration. Beck predicted that Obama would face "an explosion" if he proceeded this year.
What are your thoughts on the political ramifications?
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