Image by Thomas Hawk via FlickrOn July 1, 2010, President Barack Obama made what might be considered an important speech on the issue of illegal immigration. In the speech, made at American University, he asked for Republican support for “comprehensive immigration reform,” or, as some would characterize it, amnesty.
He made some good points, but in stating his view of the matter, he appeared to characterize other positions as material for demagoguery or a refusal to “move forward.” He affirms the responsibility of the government to secure the borders, and at the same time declares the job impossible and the laws unenforceable. In his view, we need to just focus on drugs and terrorists, etc. at the border, and not other people.
This is just short of giving up on American sovereignty. Just come, one and all, and we’ll put you on the path to legality and ultimate citizenship. We can’t deport you, there are just too many. I have put some of his words in bold and my comments not in bold:
… In recent days, the issue of immigration has become once more a source of fresh contention in our country, with the passage of a controversial law in Arizona and the heated reactions we’ve seen across America. Some have rallied behind this new policy. Others have protested and launched boycotts of the state. And everywhere, people have expressed frustration with a system that seems fundamentally broken….
Among those lining up against the state of Arizona, we find the Obama Administration, with their threats of legal action. The federal government refuses to do their job, so the state must do it for their own protection.
Citing immigrants from the past, Obama said,
These [immigrant] … men and women … remind us that immigrants have always helped to build and defend this country -– and that being an American is not a matter of blood or birth. It’s a matter of faith. It’s a matter of fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. That’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us strong. Anybody can help us write the next great chapter in our history.…
Everyone agrees that America is mostly a nation of immigrants, but the words of the Constitution make clear that American citizenship is a matter of blood and birth. See the 14th Amendment. Obama wants as many foreigners as possible to come to the U.S. and become Democrat voters, welfare clients, and union members.
….To begin with, our borders have been porous for decades. Obviously, the problem is greatest along our Southern border, but it’s not restricted to that part of the country. In fact, because we don’t do a very good job of tracking who comes in and out of the country as visitors, large numbers avoid immigration laws simply by overstaying their visas.
In other words, we aren’t doing our job. Law enforcement is the job of the Executive. When Obama declares that the borders cannot be secured and that the immigration laws are unenforceable, he is repudiating his responsibility and headed toward abdicating American sovereignty. The borders can and must be controlled. That doesn’t mean that no one will ever get in illegally, but it does mean that the occasional illegal should be the rare exception, not the rule.
The result is an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. The overwhelming majority of these men and women are simply seeking a better life for themselves and their children….
This problem is not Obama’s fault, but he, like Bush, has failed to deal with it responsibly, Obama even to the point of castigating Arizona for trying to actually do something about the problem of being overrun with illegals, some of whom bring drugs, crime and violence.
More fundamentally, the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are going through the process of immigrating legally….
Quite true. And, as the President says, there needs to be an overhaul of the legal immigration system. This need not lower the standards, it should just improve the process.
…. And now, under the pressures of partisanship and election-year politics, many of the 11 Republican senators who voted for reform in the past have now backed away from their previous support.
Into this breach, states like Arizona have decided to take matters into their own hands. Given the levels of frustration across the country, this is understandable. But it is also ill conceived. And it’s not just that the law Arizona passed is divisive -– although it has fanned the flames of an already contentious debate. Laws like Arizona’s put huge pressures on local law enforcement to enforce rules that ultimately are unenforceable. It puts pressure on already hard-strapped state and local budgets. It makes it difficult for people here illegally to report crimes -– driving a wedge between communities and law enforcement, making our streets more dangerous and the jobs of our police officers more difficult….
Arizona’s law reflects almost verbatim federal law. To say it’s unenforceable means “I don’t want you to try to enforce it.” What puts a strain on the state’s budget is not this law, but the fact of an uncontrolled influx of people entering the U.S. illegally. Of course, if the federal government would contribute more to the law enforcement effort, this problem for the state would be alleviated. But when it’s announced that people detained under the Arizona law may not be processed by federal authorities, we get an indication of the Administration’s lack of desire to enforce the law.
These laws also have the potential of violating the rights of innocent American citizens and legal residents, making them subject to possible stops or questioning because of what they look like or how they sound....
Here is the straw man the liberals have constructed to use against Arizona. The law specifically forbids stopping and questioning people about their status except in connection with circumstances where they would have been stopped and questioned anyway for other reasons. If actual abuse occurred, it could be dealt with in court.
And as other states and localities go their own ways, we face the prospect that different rules for immigration will apply in different parts of the country -– a patchwork of local immigration rules where we all know one clear national standard is needed.
The “national standard” is currently defined in federal law, which is too much ignored, and which the Administration doesn’t like to enforce. Border Patrol agents do a great job on a problem too big for them to handle. If the border is “secure,” we’d hate to see it when it wasn’t secure. If the federal government would fulfill its responsibilities, states would not need to bother enacting their own laws.
Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship. And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable.
[T]he majority of Americans are skeptical … that it is possible to round up and deport 11 million people. They know it’s not possible. Such an effort would be logistically impossible and wildly expensive. Moreover, it would tear at the very fabric of this nation -– because immigrants who are here illegally are now intricately woven into that fabric. Many have children who are American citizens.... [E]ven if it was possible, a program of mass deportations would disrupt our economy and communities in ways that most Americans would find intolerable.
It wouldn’t be impossible to deport criminals. And to announce that we're not going to deport illegal immigrants simply emboldens more people to enter America in defiance of the law.
Today, we have more boots on the ground near the Southwest border than at any time in our history....
…The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years. That doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do…
See comments above.
[T]here are those who argue that we should not move forward with any other elements of reform until we have fully sealed our borders. But our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work. Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists, but also the hundreds of thousands who attempt to cross each year simply to find work.
Or, “We don’t want to do that job because it’s just too hard.” In fact, fences and border patrols can go a long way toward border enforcement. To say that it can’t be done is simply irresponsible and a repudiation of a clear duty. Senator John McCain, an early proponent of “immigration reform,” came to realize that border security is what people expect before other issues are dealt with, and he saw it correctly as a political reality. That doesn’t make it wrong.
That’s why businesses must be held accountable if they break the law by deliberately hiring and exploiting undocumented workers....
O.K. Is that being done now?
Finally, we have to demand responsibility from people living here illegally. They must be required to admit that they broke the law. They should be required to register, pay their taxes, pay a fine, and learn English. They must get right with the law before they can get in line and earn their citizenship….
After we’ve secured the borders, put a workable program in place.
So we’ve made progress. I’m ready to move forward; the majority of Democrats are ready to move forward; and I believe the majority of Americans are ready to move forward. But the fact is, without bipartisan support, as we had just a few years ago, we cannot solve this problem. Reform that brings accountability to our immigration system cannot pass without Republican votes. That is the political and mathematical reality….
Yes, it’s those obstructionist Republicans that aren’t ready to “move forward.” The American people in general, 60% of whom support the Arizona law, aren’t ready to “move forward” with “comprehensive reform” either until the borders are secure. Here’s hoping the Republicans will stand their ground.
And, yes, this is an emotional question, and one that lends itself to demagoguery. Time and again, this issue has been used to divide and inflame -– and to demonize people….
The demagogues and demonizers, for Obama, being those who object to leaving the borders porous and who insist on enforcement of the law before dealing with changing the status of people who are in the U.S. illegally.
But I believe we can put politics aside and finally have an immigration system that’s accountable. I believe we can appeal not to people’s fears but to their hopes, to their highest ideals, because that’s who we are as Americans….
It’s liberals, and the Obama Administration in particular, who politicize everything. There is no chance of putting “politics” aside. What is really wanted is to put the wishes of the American people aside, as was done with the “health care reform.”
It’s not a matter of appealing to “hopes” vs. “fears.” It’s a matter of dealing with reality.
Quotations from the President’s speech are from transcript found at whitehouse.gov.