by Moses Apsan, Esq.
It was just a few week ago when on Air Force One Obama went from being a lighthouse in the night for the cause of comprehensive immigration reform to practically destroying the tenuous hopes of millions of people when he declared that congress did not have “the appetite” for immigration reform this year. His statement spread like wildfire throughout the pro-reform community. Thinking quickly on his feet Obama, took the opportunity of the annual White House "Cinco de Mayo" celebration to say, although sheepishly, that he was still hopefulness that Congress would "start work" on immigration this year. Whatever did he mean by that statement?
The November elections are around the corner and many Democrats need Latinos and other ethnic based groups to come out in large numbers if they hope to triumph against Republicans this November and safeguard democratic control of Congress.
According to political pundits, in approximately 35 congressional election contests in the West, a solid Latin voter turn out could well make the difference between winning and loosing. In Florida, everything is up for grabs, as many foresee Marco Rubio, a Latin GOP candidate, as the possible winner of a three-way Senate race in which former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist runs as an independent.
The GOP is also in a quandary this November, How can they pacify their base, which is composed of primarily anti-immigrant voters and at the same time not cause potential long-term damage to the party by looking as if they are hostile to the Latin community? It is a known fact that the Arizona GOP was to blame for the SB 1070, the Arizona anti immigrant law. As most Republicans have declined to criticize the law, they will not foster new Hispanic allies in the territories they lost in 2008.
Congress will break on May 28, and upon it’s returns, the candidates will focus on the November election, making the possibility of passage of a comprehensive immigration reform unlikely until perhaps, next year.
What the president does not seem to get, is that the fault for Arizona’s law and the growing dissent among his Latin constituents is directly related to the manner in which the federal government has been handling the illegal immigrant population for the past many years.
It was the federal government, not Arizona that took the lead in encouraging the participation of local police in the enforcement of the immigration laws.
Looking back at the government’s involvement with state participation in immigration enforcement, we come to a 2006 CIS publication entitled "Attrition through Enforcement: A Cost-Effective Strategy to Shrink the Illegal Population."
In this report, CIS analyst Jessica Vaughn delineates a six-part plan to methodically reduce the number of illegal immigrants inhabiting the U.S. Vaugh goes beyond the government’s plan, such as the 2005 Secure Border Initiative and with Secretary Janet Napolitano's commitment to "border security" by arguing that even with greater border security, there would still be an "illegal alien" population of over 11.5 million.
As mass deportation would be both politicall suicide and prohibitively expensive she described a more "realistic" and less costly method to intensify immigration enforcement efforts.
In her “strategy” the government would make life for the illegal immigrant so miserable that they in essence would self deport. Some of her suggestions are as follows:
• A strategy of attrition through enforcement could reduce the illegal population by as many as 1.5 million illegal aliens each year. Currently, only about 183,000 illegal aliens per year depart without the intervention of immigration officials, according to DHS statistics.
• Requiring employers to verify the status of workers could deny jobs to about three million illegal workers in three years, affecting at least one-third of the illegal population
• The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) knows the name, address, and place of employment of millions of illegal aliens, and issues hundreds of millions of dollars in tax refunds and tax credits to illegal aliens. Changing the laws to provide for information sharing would help boost immigration law enforcement at minimal cost.
• Less than 10 percent of ICE investigative resources are devoted to fraud, workplace violations, and overstayers. DHS could double non-criminal removals at a cost of roughly $120 million per year, balancing a "broken windows" approach with its current triage approach to interior enforcement.
• Laws enacted by the state governments of Florida and New York to prevent illegal immigrants from obtaining driver’s licenses have induced more illegal aliens to leave than have federal enforcement efforts against certain illegal populations in those states, and have come at virtually no cost to the federal government.
It seems that that is what the federal government has been doing; making the lives of illegal immigrants so miserable that they hopefully will, on their own, leave America and their U.S. family behind. Interesting, but it will never happen.
President Obama, whom we have all come to believe is pro immigration reform, has been outwardly placating the immigrant masses while simultaneously establishing his administration as zealous advocates of increased federal-local collaboration in immigration enforcement. Among the various laws that have increased enforcement activity it has encouraged the infamous 287(g) program, which grants local police and sheriff deputies the right to enforce the immigration laws. 287 (g) is the precursor of the current Arizona law and has been widely criticized as providing a weapon for the anti-immigrant faction of our country’s police force.
Obama slammed Arizona’s new “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill” as “misguided" yet, even before the passage of SB1070, Arizona’s Maricopa County sheriff "Joe" Arpaio who promotes himself as "America's Toughest Sheriff" became well know as an abuser of the privilege granted by 287(g).
Unless Obama and his administration take an affirmative and active participation in moving towards compressive immigration reform, he will eventually loose the significant support of the Hispanic community. Without them he probably would never have been president today and may not be re-elected in 2012.
Arizona does not bear the full responsibility for the damage that follows the enactment of SB 1070. It shares this notorious fame with the federal government,
Whatever happened to the Obama we met during the presidential debate? He seemed sincere when he said:
“If we are going to solve the challenges we face, you need a President who will pursue genuine solutions day in and day out. And that is my commitment to you. We need immigration reform that will secure our borders, and punish employers who exploit immigrant labor; reform that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day. “
Is it all just political maneuvering?