Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Obama Vows to Get Immigration Reform Done

    Besides taking a tough stand on the fiscal cliff-the rich will not keep the Bush tax cuts again-he also spoke with conviction about nailing down immigration reform.

   President demands $1.6 trillion in new revenues

  In his meeting with progressive leaders yesterday, President Obama promised to make immigration reform a priority for his second-term:
One source, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was an off-the-record meeting, said Obama brought up immigration reform, unprompted, in his opening remarks — a stark difference from tense previous talks in which he’s been prodded by reform advocates to address the topic.
“I’ve been in a number of meetings with him on this topic, it’s been pretty rough, but this one, the passion, intensity, seriousness — I was pretty struck,” the source said. “If there’s one thing he was crystal clear he was going to get done in 2013 … it was immigration reform. He was going to lean into it; he was sure Republicans were going to come to the table. It was sort of what he’s said before, but with huge conviction.”

     Still, Jamelle Bouie says that liberals are understandably wary:

      "Liberals and immigration advocates have reason to be wary of this — Obama made the same promise while running for president four years ago, and he proceeded to devote his time to the economy and health care. Both were important, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that immigration reform fell by the wayside, while at the same time, the president began to crack down on undocumented immigrants, deporting more people than any previous administration."

       As usual when it comes to President Obama, I must admit to being considerably less wary than some others are. I've long since grown weary-if not wary-of the Obama skeptics. He didn't get it fully done in the first term. How many hours though do these wary folks seem to think there are? When exactly could he have fitted it in? Boule does acknowledge that Obama's ACA has wide support among Latinos. so presumably no one is saying he shouldn't have done healthcare-this had been part of the Democrat wish list since FDR and was always out of reach.

      After that Obama didn't have the political standing necessarily. He did propose something that got short thrift even by his own party. I really don't see when exactly his opportune moment that he squandered. The GOP had a very determined opposition and it took every thing Obama had to get the stimulus, healthcare, and Dodd-Frank. If he should have gotten it done-when? Obviously after the 2010 "shellacking" whatever window there had been was closed.

     As to the jibe about a record amount of undocumented immigrants being deported, it should be borne in mind that there were those who had been criminal offenders or had legal troubles of some kind while in the U.S. Part of the theory of the Obama Administration and other liberals was that you deport those who really are criminals but the majority of honest people who just want a better life for themselves and their families you give them a meaningful path to citizenship.

    Obama did do the one thing he could do after the Tea Party victories in 2010 in his executive order with the Dream Act lite. Bouie nevertheless voices pessimism about a deal getting done.

    "It’s hard to pinpoint the prospects for a meaningful immigration reform package. As the current beneficiaries of Latino voting, Democrats are ready to push forward with a plan. Republicans, on the other hand, have reason for reticence. Yes, they need to improve their standing with Latinos — and nonwhite voters writ large — but their anti-tax, anti-spending position does not appeal to working- and middle-class Latino families who support greater government action in the economy. Republican support for immigration reform won’t solve that core problem, and indeed, could spark another backlash from their base of working- and middle-class whites, who feel threatened by immigration. In which case, the incentives for cooperation — and prospects for reform — are much worse than they look."

     It's true that the middle and working class whites who support the GOP are threatened by immigration. Indeed, while Bouie mentions that Latinos don't support the GOP econoimc position it's not clear how much even the GOP white base does. Since Nixon the GOP strategy has been to neutralize on the "Economic Issue" and win on the "Social Issue."

     That might argue that the GOP needs to hold onto their anti-immigration position even tighter. The trouble is that as even Lindsay Graham now says, there aren't enough angry white guys around to win. The GOP will need to expand their base if they hope to ever do so. While it's true that imigration is far from the only reason Latinos don't vote GOP, it's a major one. In 2004 Bush got at least 40% of Hispancis.

     It really wasn't until 2007 when you really started hearing a lot of talk agbout "building a fence" and self-deportation that you really saw the GOP's support among Latinos sink.

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