A letter to the editor in the Arizona Republic last week asked the impertinent question – if President Barack Obama was serious about immigration reform why didn’t he wait to work with the new Congress? Good question. What do we know about the author of such impertinence? You mean other than she was “spot on” with her question? Nothing. We don’t need to know anything about the author because the integrity of the question stands on its own and the answer is pretty much self-evident.
Mr. Obama views “immigration reform” not so much as an issue that needs a solution, but rather, primarily, as a “wedge issue” – an opportunity to further infect the national commonweal with racial animus, class envy and political divisiveness. He seeks to exploit the situation rather than to heal it. The proof of this is in the actions taken, or not taken, during his six years as president:
- While Mr. Obama promised to “fix” the immigration problem during his first campaign for the presidency he did nothing about it during the first two years of his presidency when he had a large majority in the House and a filibuster proof majority in the Senate. And when I say nothing, I mean absolutely nothing. He did not offer any legislation, did not convene the Democrat leadership to address the problem, did not speak publicly of the need for reform, and did not work with immigration advocates to build consensus or a sense of public urgency. He did nothing. So silent was he that you would have thought the 14 – 20 million illegal immigrants already in the United States had quit and returned to their nations of origin and the problem had solved itself.
- During the next two years of his presidency Mr. Obama failed to offer a single proposal for resolving the issue. It was not until his presidential campaign in 2012 that he was again moved to address the issue. And he did not address it in terms of offering a solution, only as an issue to divide Americans between those favoring and opposing amnesty. His actions can only be defined as inciting racial animus and accusing others of racial prejudice. But once the campaign began in earnest, he once again promised to “fix” the problem – he never described the fix in concrete terms but only in terms of inducing those who might actually want a solution to again vote for him. And he knew that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) would refuse to allow a vote on any solutions offered by the Republicans in the House thus ensuring that Mr. Obama would not have to take any action that would demonstrate his determination to block any solution in favor of continuing the divisiveness.
- Mr. Obama’s inaction continued into the first two years of his second term except for his periodic opportunity to blame Republicans for the lack of progress on a solution and to reinforce with all of Congress that he could not be trusted to implement the totality of any comprehensive solution. Mr. Obama’s presidency has been a litany of deciding which laws he will enforce and those that he will not. He governs not by law but by fiat. So poisonous is the political distrust of Mr. Obama that Democrats in both houses of Congress asked him to stay out of the debate on potential compromises for fear of blowing up any agreements reached. He did not – choosing instead to reinvigorate divisiveness and discord.
- It is only now that he has lost majority control in both houses of Congress that he is moved to act. And his actions were not to offer a solution or provide a framework for agreement but rather to drive more decisively a wedge in the debate. He did not wait for the new Congress because he could not afford to allow the Congress to solve the problem and thus deny him his wedge of divisiveness.
For those who criticize Mr. Obama as ineffectual, they should recognize that his actions surrounding immigration reform have been highly effective. He has managed to defer a solution for nearly six years in order to advance his agenda of divisiveness. He has managed to exploit the situation without any real concern for the people most directly impacted – the illegal immigrants.
And the real pity for all of this is that the solutions are already there. Had Mr. Obama simply told the Congress that he would support any compromise solution and fairly administer those solutions, this debate would have been over six years ago. Now, because he has been exposed as a prolific liar and an untrustworthy ally, any solution is unduly complicated by ensuring that there is no “wiggle room” allowing Mr. Obama to pick and choose which provisions he will enforce and/or ignore.
It is unfortunate that the debate on immigration reform has now becomes secondary to a debate on limiting the powers of an unscrupulous president. Mr. Obama should be ashamed and the immigration advocates ought to be outraged at his conduct and the time that has been lost because of his actions.