Is Obama Serious About Immigration Reform?

His speech this week suggests that he's not.


Immigration reform, huh? Well, President Obama did recently consult with Eva Longoria on this formidable policy conundrum. As goes Longoria, so goes the nation.

Then again, it certainly seems like a peculiar time to spring this divisive topic on the American people. Especially when we know full well that reform has a stimulus's chance of success.

And weren't we just talking about the $14 trillion debt? The budget you didn't pass? Thuggery against Boeing? Debt ceilings? Medicare? According to a new NBC News poll, 58 percent of Americans disapprove of Obama's handling of the economy—an all-time high. So perhaps the discussion wasn't helpful to the most vital imperative: electing Obama.

Remember that Obama promised to fight for reform legislation in his first year in office. Instead, Democrats used historic supremacy to cram through a number of legislative items that divided the nation—but no immigration policy. Latinos are imperative to presidents when running for office, less so when in it. Now, in the middle of the most consequential fiscal debate the nation has faced in memory, the administration shifts to immigration reform? We can guess why.

Other than a superb distraction for average Americans, the debate doubtlessly ignites passion on the left. Immigration reform is also a useful cluster bomb to drop within a shaky right-center alliance cracking with libertarian-traditional-business splits on the matter. The right tends to turn on itself whenever immigration is at issue. At the Mexican border this week, Obama made sure to mention the support of Mel Martinez, Michael Chertoff, Michael Bloomberg, and Rupert Murdoch. "He doesn't have an Obama sticker on his car," the president explained (speaking for others has become his routine), "but he agrees with me on this."

So what? A lot of us agree with you in principle. The timing and intent of the discussion, however, are what should make it irrelevant.

Tangentially, an immigration discussion also opens a door for the administration to, once again, tacitly accuse opponents of being racist swine. An administration official explained to ABC News, presumably without laughing, that the president was only attempting to elevate the debate. The same president who later went on to claim that Republicans may "need a moat, maybe they'll need alligators" to be satisfied on the border.

It is difficult to dispute the assertion that some Republicans may favor alligators and moats. Maybe some Democrats would, as well. According to numerous polls, Democrats favor tougher border enforcement in large numbers. But imagine if former President Bush bragged, as Obama did this week, about how he was responsible for larger levels of deportations and more boots on the ground at the border than any other administration in history?

"One way to strengthen the middle class in America is to reform the immigration system," Obama went on to claim, "so that there is no longer a massive underground economy that exploits a cheap source of labor while depressing wages for everybody else."

Does illegal immigration depress wages? Arguable. There are those of us who believe that increased immigration creates increased wealth and raises the average wages of all Americans. If you don't subscribe to that view, and most do not, how is a pathway to citizenship for millions more going to help anyone—other than the unions Obama envisions these immigrants joining?

According to a Pew Research Center for the People and the Press poll, immigration policy is only a midlevel concern of voters. In another poll by Pew, 42 percent (the highest number) say the nation's priority should be to tighten border security (nothing on alligators), strictly enforce immigration laws and create a way for people here illegally to become citizens.

So there is room for some common ground. But Republicans would be nuts to engage in any good-faith effort on the matter until there is some closure on entitlement reform and spending cuts.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Blaze. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.


NEXT: Ending Entitlements for Billionaires: Harder Than You Might Think!

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  1. Will immigration reform work as a distraction from the budget/deficit/debt/entitlement reform?

    Of course not. The budget etc. is never gone from the agenda. Immigration can, has been, and will be backburnered.

  2. It’s a ploy to get Republicans on the record opposing immigration reform so Democrats can run ads next year against them in communities with large immigrant populations.

    1. Yes – odd how they had no interest in immigration reform when they held super majorities in the House and Senate.

      1. Bullshit.

        The democratic house passed the DREAM act. The democratic senate could not overcome the Republican filibuster.

        1. If it was so important, why didn’t they pass it when the Republicans couldn’t do anythinh about it?

          1. 55 democratic senators voted for it. That wasn’t enough.

            1. So Republicans can get legislation passed with smaller majorities, but Democrats can’t?

              Sounds like Democrats aren’t worth the shit they constantly talk.

              1. Democrats have less party unity than Republicans. This is a feature not a bug.

  3. I don’t think people care too much about “immigration”.

    I think people in the Southwest want border security, meaning against the violent crime that is spreading across the border. Those with some experience in states like California want entitlement reform vis-a-vis immigrants, for economic reasons.

    Except for the traditionalist-nationalist types, a relatively small minority, “immigration” isn’t the issue at hand. Americans would probably support, or at least not oppose, very liberal immigration policies, if the above two concerns were truly addressed — and if Americans impacted believed they were being addressed effectively.

    In my view, as someone who lived near the border for over 40 years, “immigration” is, itself, a diversion from the issues that people want to change.

    1. To put it more simply, I think the vast majority of Americans welcome immigrants, provided that they don’t enter the US in order to murder people, and that we don’t go broke handing out free stuff to everyone. “Undocumented workers” aren’t the problem that most people see. Undocumented welfare abusers, and undocumented kidnappers and hit men are what they care about.

      1. If you would have stopped at “Undocumented welfare abusers” +1

        1. Ever live near the border?

          1. Lived in AZ till 2002. I am sympathetic to those who want the border. The trouble is that country as a whole is not making it a priority. As you were describing the mood of the country …

          2. make that ‘border controlled’

  4. The Obama speech is political theater. This is grist for 2012 and little else. When there were 60+ Democrats in the Senate this issue was nowhere on the radar screen.

    I suppose one can argue over a sovereign nation’s right to control its borders and migration across those borders, but then that would be giving aid and comfort to one of the two dominant parties in power.

    1. The last time there were 60+ democrats in the Senate was 1979.

      1. No they had 60 briefly after spector switched but before Brown was elected.

        1. which just happens to be the period that Obamacare was passed.

          1. Joe Lieberman is not a democrat.

            1. only because he lost an election as a democrat and then as a sore loser ran as an independent.

              Do you preffer “democrats had 60 senators caucusing with them” instead?

              1. And running as an independent AGAINST A DEMOCRAT makes you not a democrat, obviously.

                Yes “Democrats had 60 senators caucusing with them” is more accurate, because having 60 senators caucusing with you doesn’t mean anything if they won’t vote to end a filibuster, which is exactly what Joe Lieberman did.

                1. So what the fuck is Bernie Sanders, then, Derider? Oh sure, he’s an unapologetic communist, but when was the last time you saw him go against the Dems on anything?

            2. You Lie!

              Lieberman remains a registered Democrat.

              Caucuses with…committee chair…

              1. You see the “I” next to Joe Lieberman’s name on the teevee? That stands for “I’m right”.

                1. It also stands for “I’m a childish pedant”.

                  1. So if I start calling George Bush a Libertarian, and you say “No dude he was a Republican”, you are being pedantic?

                    1. Bush was not a Libertarian he was a Statist. There is a difference.

                    2. Thank you for agreeing with me!

                    3. No, because George Bush is about 1% Libertarian. Joe Lieberman is about 99% Democrat. The point is that the Democrats had ample opportunity to pass immigration reform (or any other remotely reasonable bill) without fear of a Republican filibuster.

                    4. No, they didn’t. They tried repeatedly to break the Republican filibuster, but 55 votes isn’t a majority in the senate.

      2. My … picky ain’t we. Liebermann is still a registered Democrat. He lost in a primary because he was not whacked enough to satisfy the Dean wing of the Democrat party. He has the (I) next to his name. OK. He caucuses with the Dems. Reid relies on his vote. He is the chairman of a committee. He quacks, walks, and craps like a Democrat. Get over yourself.

        1. The point here is that his presence in the democratic caucus was no guarantee of the democrats being able to break a republican filibuster.

          1. Were you typing with a straight face?

            1. Feel free to prove me wrong with facts. I guess you’d have to find some first.

              1. Try looking at his reliable (from Reid’s perspective) voting record since the start of the preceding congress. The only time he breaks with Reid is when he is showing off his Neocon stripes.

                1. Votes on bills or votes on cloture?

                  Do you even know the difference?

  5. Let me be clear, this is a crucial stage in winning the future.
    Now to get on top of this Playstation Network issue.

    1. You’ll just make it worse.

  6. Damn that Obama! Playing politics again instead of letting us win fair and square! What a sneaky trick!

  7. If Reason wants to be taken seriously, they need to stop posting articles from Glenn Beck’s website.

    This hack writer couldn’t cite a single part of the speech to support his claim that Obama isn’t genuine about immigration reform. He just regurgitates the stupidest nonsense Beck has let slip from his asshole over the past 2 years.

    If this is the price Reason has to pay to get all that Koch money, it isn’t worth it.

    1. Well, if Obama actually IS genuine about immigration reform, meaning, plans to get it passed, then his grip on reality is… iffy.

      So, either the President is deceptive, or disconnected from reality.

      Actually, why choose?

      1. So your reasoning is: Barack Obama is trying to pass something that I don’t think will pass. Therefore, Barack Obama is a liar or an idiot. OR BOTH HAHA.

        I expect that you don’t apply the same reasoning towards libertarian proposals that have no chance of passing, like abolishing the Fed, or a national sales tax, or ending Social Security.

    2. A website run by Glenn Beck can have no useful content, ever?

      1. If you can find something on “the Blaze” that’s not total nonsense, I’ll reconsider my position.

        Not holding my breath.

    3. and you need to be taken seriously when you are carrying water for the Dems? Really?

    4. and you need to be taken seriously when you are carrying water for the Dems? Really?

      1. Libertarians support immigration reform. Democrats support immigration reform.

        Who are you carrying water for?

        1. No one. Immigration reform is one thing. Using the issue as a political football is another. If Obama was serious about this, he would have addressed this when he had the house and a lock on the senate.

          1. Read the thread. He did. Repeatedly. Republican. Filibuster.

            1. Read the thread. He did. Repeatedly. Republican. Filibuster.

              “THE FILIBUSTER IS A RETHUGLICAN TOOL (when the Dems are in charge) A BLOO BLOO BLOO!!”

  8. Caption under the picture:

    So then I says “Bring it Michelle, fat assed ho.”

    1. Tiger Uppercut!

      1. That poor, tiny woman he’s attacking. I mean, he’s already got her back against the wall.

        1. She’s certainly unhappy about the situation. Or maybe she’s just playing hard to get…

  9. I agree he is discussing this solely as a campaign tactic. Especially given the upcoming debate on the debt ceiling.


    1. Counting on the likes of the current parties to reign in the spending and come up with a reasonable plan for reducing the debt is akin to expecting dogs to stop licking their asses.

  10. On a more personal note, my girlfriend is a Fillipino immigrant who’s visa is due to expire one month before she graduates college. It’s fucking bullshit that she might have to take her degree and go back to the Philippines because INS is making it harder and harder to become a naturalized citizen. It’s not even just paying for an immigration attorney, it’s that every paper and form filed has a filing fee attached to it.

    1. Did you mention this just to distract us from the real issue, the economy?

      (J/K that sucks yo)

    2. I feel your pain. My girlfriend graduated at the height of the recession. She couldn’t find a job that would support a work visa for her. We had to get married. So far so good, but even getting a green card through marriage is a nightmare… and expensive.

      1. My wife and I had to do this; she’s a Chinese citizen. Three years and thousands of $ later she has her green card for 10 years.

        We didn’t use a lawyer either. Hang in there.

        Incidentally, both of us are SERIOUSLY for enforcement of immigration laws. If they want to change the law to make it easier for people to come here, fine, we’re for that too, but we are against the current regime of lax enforcment for some immigrants and strict enforcment for others.

  11. I was expecting big things from obama. To bad is not working out.

  12. “creates increased wealth and raises the average wages of all Americans.”

    Would someone here hop off their rainbow unicorn and explain how more people competing for less money creates wealth for anyone except a handful of well connected people? Physics doesn’t bend to your whims any more than anyone else who’s wishing to believe something.

    1. The economy is not zero sum. Dollar bills are representative of wealth, but are not the wealth itself.

    2. Well, it’s a good think “physics” has nothing to do with wealth creation, then, isn’t it?

    3. According to your logic the U.S. must have been an immensely richer place back in 1800 when there were only 5 million Americans instead of the 309 million we have now.

      1. That was before minimum wage laws, you see. If they were forced to pay eachother more money, they could’ve had unlimited wealth. They were all like illegal immigrants forcing down eachother’s wages. I’m totally not overlooking anything important


    1. In the past, uneducated poor people that came here worked and grew the economy. As long as the uneducated poor from south of the border come here to work and not to exploit social services, I believe the economy would grow.

      1. As long as the uneducated poor from south of the border come here to work and not to exploit social services, I believe the economy would grow.

        Sorry, that horse escaped the barn a long time ago.

    2. No Irish Need Apply

    3. I agree, Harry55, we need more uneducated, poor people. Uneducated by indoctrinating public schools, poor and willing to work hard to get out of poverty.


      1. Repeal minimum wage laws and open the borders. The American economy would recover almost overnight.

        1. Good start but not enough. We need to cut spending in the military ($680B), medicaid ($500B), medicare ($390B)and social security ($700B). Otherwise the debt service ($600B) is going to skyrocket and eat us alive. Our bond rating is in jeopardy.

          1. You seem like a stand-up guy jacob. So here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna let you abolish them all completely. Well, don’t abolish the military completely know what I mean. Go get Stossel’s big scissors.

    4. If I could afford a cheaper nanny, my wife could go back to work!

      I could use a driver and maid as well. Division of labor.

  14. You are offering me “king for a day?” Kewel. Can I abolish Trump from wearing a hair piece too? Bush is exiled to … who cares. Can we also abolish AC and heat in the capital building? No point in congress critters living in luxury.

    BTW – the Military, while bloated, is the only constitutional part of the equation.


    The Tea Party will not tolerate any further Amnesties, after the Great 1986 Amnesty laws were ignored by both parties. Internally in America, 20 million illegal aliens still find work in notorious businesses of every classification. The 2006 Secure (Double) Fence Act was intentionally unfunded just months after being enacted. The Tea Party apposes Sanctuary Cities, Chain Migration and the court mishandled instant citizen for babies intentionally conceived to gain entrance for illegal parents into America. The Dream Act, which in turn will add to the Chain Migration and Immigration Reform, a misleading name for Amnesty. All these lenient rewards, just encourages further exploitation and a unfettered magnet to financial benefits and public services once crossing the border or overstaying expired visas. The American people have woken up and each day are finding that the Tea Party (perhaps third party) are more like their middle class interpretation that they are striving for? The Tea Party stands somewhere between Democrats and Republicans in definition, as moderate Conservatism have received amazing results in such a short time. So Join the TEA PARTY as the revolution has just begun, to fade out the radical people who run this country. Skilled immigrants with high profession job expertise will receive the hospitality of all Americans, including the Tea party members. But we must stop the unfettered incursion of people, who will need welfare assistance and will displace impoverished Americans who still have a manual jobs.

  16. well, i’ll be looking forward for an update regardng ths matter

  17. y consult with Eva Longoria on this formidable policy conundrum. As goes Longoria, so goes the nation.

    Then again, it certainly se

  18. ngoria on this formidable policy conundrum. As goes Longoria, so goes the nation.

    Then again, it certainly se

  19. es once crossing the border or overstaying expired visas. The American people have woken up and each day are finding that the Tea Party (perhaps third party) are more like their middle class interpretation that they are striving for? The Tea Party stands somewhere between Democrats and Republicans in definition, as moderate Conservatism have received amazing results in such a short time. So Join the TEA PAR

  20. y are finding that the Tea Party (perhaps third party) are more like their middle class interpretation that they are striving for? The Tea Party stands somewhere between Democrats and Republicans in definition, as moderate Conservatism have received amazing results in such a short time. So J

  21. When we came to the United States (I was a kid), and it came time for naturalization, it took us one week for everything – a single fee, a ceremony, and you’re done.

    My pal from South Africa’s been waiting for seven months. What the mother-fucking shit is going on in this country?

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