Understanding the reasons Obama needed to act alone on immigration...
It has taken President Obama long enough to call out Republicans on immigration reform, but I guess it’s better late than never. While the right-wing in America is up in arms over Obama’s recent executive action on the matter, it remains amusing to watch the Republicans squirm.
Conservatives have gone ape-shit over Obama’s decision to use limited executive powers to overhaul the immigration debacle. Every news source and radio talk show on the right has gone all out to declare Obama a tyrant, with several headlines calling him “Emperor” Obama. They all claim he has single handedly “abolished” the constitution.
What is so ironic about these statements from the right, is the fact that it is their fault in the first place Congress can’t act on the issue. Obama finally got the politics right, and used his speech not only to outline his actions, but to slam the Republicans for forcing his hand. Pass a bill” Obama said.
Finally, this is the way politics has to be played with Republicans on this issue. While Obama’s actions seem strong, and are framed by the establishment as “overreaching,” the actions outlined in his speech were not all that radical.
Obama’s announcement is not a shock. Obama had been hinting at taking executive action on immigration for months. The Senate had already passed an immigration reform bill, which passed with decent bi-partisan support. It was even projected to gain similar support in the House, but the leadership under John Boehner refused to bring the bill to a vote.
When it comes to the issue of executive authority, there is nothing un-constitutional about what he plans. All actions outlined are legal within a constitutional framework, and in the grand scope of things, his executive orders are fairly limited. Obama and progressive Democrats would like to see a broader law passed by Congress that would tackle the entirety of the issue.
The immigration situation is dire, and something had to be done. While I am generally a skeptic on executive branch power, on this issue it seems rather harmless. Our immigration system is broken, and had to be fixed. If the House Republicans refused to pass the Senate bill, then any possible measures to circumvent the House should be taken.
The broader issue of immigration itself is volatile, as often Americans (mostly white) tend to get swept up in the vain notion of “nativism.” The main skeptics and critics of Obama’s actions and the notion of a non-deportation rooted solution to the problem are white Americans. While it’s not said directly, in effect, the problem that tends to be had is the idea of “this is my country.” “They need to come legally, like my ancestors and many others.”
The right-wing always fails to understand the complex nature of immigration (in any country). While, yes, many immigrants did come in what we would consider a “legal” framework, immigration in America is not always that simple.
To start, the first Europeans to arrive in North America did not settle on a “legal” framework with the continent’s existing inhabitants. White Europeans arrived and settled without regard for existing native populations. From the beginning, white settlement on the continent did not come with permission, or a desire for permission. Colonial times were not what we could call a “legal” immigration ideal.
Then there’s the issue of American immigration policies since its inception as a country. During the great waves of immigration during the 19th and early 20th centuries, immigration policy in America was not a clean process. In fact, the policy was marred with racism and a desire to “select” the right types of “legal” immigrants and reject the wrong types. For the most part, white Europeans were accepted, while immigrants from other parts of the world were often rejected. Usually based on racial profiling.
Immigrants from Asia, China notably, had horrible times coming to America. In fact, certain periods saw several states outlaw Chinese immigration. This was often tacitly backed by the Federal Immigration system. The immigrants that got to stay, faced segregation and suspicion from America’s white dominated social system.
Immigrants from Latin America also had, and still have, rough times immigrating to America “legally.” Racial profiling played a role in this as well, making the process much harder for non-white immigrants to get accepted.
The immigration system today still suffers from a chronic hangover from its troubled past. Immigrating “legally” in America is incredibly long and difficult process. In fact, immigrating and becoming a naturalized citizen in America is harder than many other nations in the Western world.
The quickest ways to become a citizen of the United States is to either be born here, get married to a citizen, or a program to join the military. If you do not fit those categories, the process to be naturalized takes years, and often is mired in difficulty and stringent requirements that tend to shift around.
We all desire a better “legal” way for people to immigrate to this country, but that legal process is broken and mired in issues that only a comprehensive reform can fix.
Conservatives cry “tyranny!” for refusing to allow Congress to fix our desperate immigration system. Obama is taking very limited action that, while good, do not fix the root issues of immigration policy.
While Obama has done more than any predecessor to secure the border, the right wants mass round-ups and deportations of all undocumented immigrants. Or, maybe just the ones with dark skin and can’t speak ‘Murican Enlish. Enough is never enough.
If Republicans don’t pass a bill, it’s because they don’t want to pass one. Oh, gee. I wonder why that is? Perhaps we should let Obama speak for himself on that one.