Friday, May 4, 2012

Obama’s “E” for Effort

It’s report card time for the Commander-in-Chief.  Election day is coming right up.  It appears that no democrat will challenge him at the convention, but he cannot escape November 6th.

The conscientious voter will look at all aspects of his performance, including defense, the economy, crime, education, health care, the price of gas…and…wait for it…immigration.

I was reviewing some old files the other day.  One file contained information on the Bush White House from 2006 and 2007.  In it were news clippings, statements from politicians and official White House documents such as the Bush agenda on immigration reform, press conference transcripts and speeches Bush had given at varied events like the National Restaurant Association, Associated Builders and Contractors and the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.

In context, here was a lame-duck president pushing hard for the legalization of illegal aliens.  And he knew his position was unpopular with conservatives.

Bush realized that his lack of enforcement of the existing laws was part of the problem.  After his failure during the summer of 2006 he got busy with worksite raids, new cooperation programs with local law enforcement, more detention beds and some serious (at least on paper) fence-building.

But aside from what he thought were good-faith efforts at enforcement, he was all along pushing for guest worker legislation.  As foolhardy as it seems to me, he even had Michael Chertoff, his Secretary of Homeland Security, up on The Hill lobbying Congress in behalf of amnesty. 

(I say foolhardy because it seems ironic to send the one cabinet member charged with keeping illegals OUT to lobby for forgiveness of those he let slip by.)

Chertoff was accompanied by another Bush cabinet member, Carlos Gutierrez of Commerce.  At least that one made some sense.  After all, he is Hispanic and an ally of the Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber always did favor cheap labor.  The hidden message of seeing Gutierrez up there was that it meant cheap roofing jobs and reasonably priced tomatoes.

And those two cabinet members spent months twisting arms in Congress.  They lobbied everyone.

Bush recruited his RINOs to work side-by-side with Ted Kennedy and Harry Reid.  Bush gave speeches and press conferences advocating for passage of his legalization plan.  It was Bush who pulled out the back taxes clause, not Kennedy.  Remember his “Gang of 12”?

I disagree with the whole plan, but must admit that Bush was diligent in trying to get his plan passed.  He didn’t shy away from it in the least.

Then there’s Obama.  How much effort has he put into passage of immigration reform?

The short answer:  Not much.

And this from a man who promised action in his first year in office.

His chief of staff at the time, Rahm Emanuel, had a history of avoiding the amnesty question.  He knew it was polarizing and had no elegant solution.  If only Rahm had been able to keep Obama from making those wild promises on the campaign trail.

That’s not to say that Obama hasn’t been working behind the scenes to keep the pressure off illegal aliens.  (He obviously didn’t see the connection between demonstrating good faith enforcement and passage of an amnesty plan.)

Here are a few of Obama’s Executive Branch selective enforcement efforts:
¦    The gutting of 287(g).  This was a successful program between ICE and local police departments whereby cops and the feds worked together to enforce immigration laws.  It was all on the up-and-up, authorized by Congress in 1996.  And 287(g) had a waiting list of county sheriffs and police departments.  Obama changed the contract (MOU) making it impossible to be effective.
¦    In similar fashion to 287(g), the Secure Communities program  was destroyed.  This one was a little more technical.  Basically ICE spliced into the fingerprint scanners at the county jails and reacted to hits that matched the illegal alien files.  It was killed by just one word – “conviction” – making  Secure Communities a mere shell of a program.
¦    One of the bottlenecks to deportation is the lack of detention beds.  Mostly, they are rented beds in county jails with a few private prison corporations thrown in.  Obama insisted that jail cells were cruel to illegal aliens.  They deserved detention facilities that were more like dorm rooms.  As a result of his new standard the growth in detention beds stopped.  In fact, the numbers slid backwards.
¦    Obama ended worksite raids.  His hidden message there was that the worker is innocent and the employer is the only one who should be punished.  The famous example of the Obama plan is the Bellingham Washington engine plant raid in February 2009.  Boy was he upset when he found out that ICE was actually doing its job.
¦    Perhaps the most egregious example of Obama’s rule by fiat is his instruction to review 300,000 deportation letters.  It’s as though all these people with run letters are given a new, more generous offer, similar to the one Obama’s Aunt Zeituni got.  It can be a sweet deal.  She was ordered to leave in 2004 but instead was living on a disability check in subsidized housing.  What was her punishment?  A green card and a shot at citizenship.

Some will look at the charts and say, “Obama has deported more people than Bush,” but that’s really just the old Bill Clinton trick of Port Court.  Roll in the numbers of people run through deportation court at the border without even having lived in the United States and you get some really big numbers.  But those big numbers are an aberration since Bush was turning people back south (TBS) all along and not counting them as deportations.

So…Obama will be hard-pressed to prove to the world that he’s made much of an effort at immigration reform.  No matter.  All he has to do is tell people what a great job he’s done, and promise once again that he’ll pass comprehensive reform in his first year of his second term…and people will believe him.

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