Immigration Issues and Political Reality
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Immigration Issues and Political Reality

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October 25, 2011, 1:04 pm
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Immigration battle could be Obama's Waterloo
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While unemployment and the economy have dominated the front pages of the elite media, the fact is that immigration is simmering on the back burner. It is still of concern to voters who remain polarized over the issue, with 4 to 1 in favor of enforcement over Amnesty. The ongoing republican primary campaign has pushed the issue to the foreground once again. Governor Perry of Texas has been under attack because he supported the Texas DREAM which allows undocumented youth tuition breaks to attend state colleges. He is opposed to the building of a fence on the Texas-Mexico border, and has taken withering fire from immigration hawks who favor the fence and stricter enforcement.

                                                      Winning the battle but losing the war

Meanwhile battles against legislation in states like Arizona and Alabama, Georgia and now North Carolina rage on. The federal government, taking cover from election year fallout has launched a legal counter punch against every piece of hash anti-immigrant state legislation to come down the pike. It succeeded in getting parts of the Arizona law enjoined last year and has won partial victories against the Georgia and Alabama laws. The perplexing question is why an administration so much on the offense against onerous state immigration laws, is so indifferent to its own failure on the federal level, over which it has complete sway. After all, most of the defeated parts of state laws were set aside on the basis that they encroached upon areas which only the federal government can legislatively control.

The floundering US economy and the President’s preoccupation with two wars, is one reason. His polling numbers held steady until the news broke that his administration was creating Amnesty for illegal aliens by executive fiat. After word spread of this move by Obama and DHS, his approval numbers declined steadily and finally dropped below 40! While this does not mean that selective deportation of hard core criminals and administrative deferral of deportation of non- criminal immigrants is the reason for the president’s unpopularity, immigration hawks would have us believe that it is in fact, the only reason.

                                                                    Immigration reflux

The truth is, that the administration by coming to the defense of immigrants at the state level is playing to its Latino base. Rep. Gutierrez, the foremost congressional defender of immigrants has already said that he would have difficulty supporting the president for reelection. A few months back, he was arrested at the White house protesting the administration’s inertia on immigration reform. The fact is, that Latinos may have no other place to turn and may opt to sit out the 2012 election. For democrats, this is a doomsday scenario. But, at the same time, amnesty now would lose them a good chunk of the independent vote.

The so- called "Amnesty by Memo" scandal and the Fast and Furious Gun walker scandal combined with federal lawsuits to try and stop states like Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama from enforcing existing immigration laws are finally getting through, even to those sympathetic to immigrants plight. As more Americans learn about the plight of the 12 million illegals now in the country, support for amnesty falters, and President Obama loses support. Americans have grave concerns about the present state of our economy, and many view immigrants as unwanted competition for scarce jobs. Why, they wonder, does the President attack every state that seeks to stem the flow of immigrants into its borders when he has the power to resolve the issue for the entire nation without the patchwork of laws state by state? A federal problem ought to have a federal solution, and it does. But the administration lacks the political will to make it happen.

                                                                            Facing the facts

The polling data continues to indicate that 80% or more of Americans want existing laws enforced. But that does not mean that there is no support for a comprehensive immigration reform plan. Americans want a solution to the immigration crisis and they realize that removal of 12 million immigrants is not only impracticable, but costly, counter- productive and unfair to those who have worked hard and lived by the law and have raised their children as Americans.

Pundits and journalists reporting for the major newspapers explain the "Perry Plunge" by asserting that Perry simply offended the "conservative base." This is clearly not the case. A recent Rasmussen poll demonstrates that 81% of Americans oppose in-state tuition for illegal aliens. 81% of Americans cannot be written off as a conservative base. A solution to the immigration problem is not helped by labeling every enforcement proposal racist or anti immigrant. And it does not help immigrants when each and every attempt by states struggling with the issue, is met with heavy incoming fire from the ALCU and a federal government that can, but does nothing about the problem. It breeds resentment.

There is still time to resolve the immigration issue, but it requires political courage that the president has not demonstrated. It requires a truce on the legal battlefront so that the resources now squandered on blocking laws state by state could be amassed and focused where it really matters, on comprehensive immigration on the federal level. No amount of legal bush fires on the state level will solve the problem. .

Author: Reynold Mason
Reynold N. Mason teaches law courses at Zenover Educational Institute In Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a judge on New York City Civil Court and, a Justice on New York State Supreme Court. Mason has been an adjunct professor of law at Medgar Evers College and Monroe College in New York. He has authored several legal opinions published in New York Miscellaneous Reports and New York Official Reports as well as the New York Law Journal. He lives in Atlanta.
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