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Friday, April 10, 2009

Will the President Really Dive into the Hornet's Nest of Immigration Reform

On both a political and policy level, it makes some sense that President Obama wants to move forward with immigration reform including some form of amnesty. Obama has favored driver's licenses for illegals all the way back to his days in Illinois. He's favored such open borders policies as the DREAM Act. All in all, he is generally pro open borders. So, immigration reform including amnesty seems rather natural.

On a political level, legalizing illegals can very much lead directly to a permanent Democratic majority. Of course, no one knows how long it would take but adding up to 20 million new voters who will overwhelmingly vote Democrat will give that party an electoral advantage that is nearly impossible to overcome.

So, on the one hand, it makes perfect sense for the president to try and tackle this. On the other hand, tackling illegal immigration with anything near amnesty would be somewhere near short term political suicide. The main reason is that the people don't trust politicians. The bill will likely have all sorts of planned beefed up enforcement provisions. Yet, none of that will matter. The people won't believe that any of that will happen. All the people will know is that illegals will get amnesty.

The main problem is a problem of intensity. I haven't seen the polling on amnesty, but here is one thing I know. Those against amnesty take that position with a lot more intensity than those that support it. Yes, some form of amnesty would be hugely supported by many parts of the Hispanic community, but for most Americans, the idea of amnesty creates a negative and visceral reaction.

The other problem with taking up immigration reform is that such debates get very ugly. If President Obama wants to take on immigration reform, he has one of two options. He can either expect to lose, or he can expect to use almost all his political capital winning. Health care reform will take years. Cap and trade will likely not pass this year. So, if President Obama wants to take on immigration reform he must know that it is with the express knowledge that most other reforms are sacrificed. If he really wants to dive into this hornet's nest that is his prerogative, but he must know that his entire presidency will be in jeopardy if he does it.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Will the President Really Dive into the Hornet's Nest of Immigration Reform?"

Yes, because He rules with an iron hand. His Way is the Way. Resistance is fuuuuuutile.

Joe Biden said...

Oh no comment moderation! I'm mellllllllting!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure he'd consider taking this issue on right away. His priorities seem to be in this order:

1. Stimulus
2. Fix Wall Street
3. Health Care Reform
4. EFCA (mainly because he has to wait till 2010 to try for a filibuster proof majority)
5. Immigration Reform

mike volpe said...

President Obama makes no secret of his priorities, climate change, and education reform. If reforming banks is a priority he isn't telling anyone because that's not a priority he ever talks about. The economy is what he sees as wrapped up in the other three.