No, You Can’t!

Published on April 3rd, 2009

Obama’s promised drive for amnesty is going to fail, badly
By Mark Cromer

Just five months ago, as Barack Obama became the president-elect and the economic slump began turning into an avalanche, the chances that the incoming president would make “immigration reform” a priority in his first year registered somewhere between zero and none.

Legalizing tens of millions of people who broke into the country and putting them on competitive par with the millions of jobless Americans desperately looking for work has about as much political pizzazz as proposing liquor stores be allowed to sell assault rifles with no waiting period—probably even less.

But a lot of hard-to-imagine things have come to pass since November, from the feds throwing a trillion dollars into the boiler rooms of the nation’s sinking financial ships to Washington D.C.’s bureaucratic brain trust effectively taking over two-thirds of America’s domestic auto industry. The nationalization of the healthcare system is more likely to happen now than ever before.

And it now seems almost certain that this year will also see President Obama endorse and aggressively push for the largest mass amnesty in the history of nations—fighting hard to legalize with the stroke of his pen as many as 30 million men, women and children who came to the United States illegally and put them on a path to citizenship.

Obama recently met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and vowed to fight for an amnesty plan this year, which must have been music to their ears. The ethnocentric caucus currently numbers 24 members out of 435 House seats, but a mass amnesty would quickly amount to an ethno-demographic freight train that would dramatically increase the caucus’s electoral powerbase. Considering that 23 of the 24 caucus members are Democrats, their demand for amnesty comes with some partisan cover for the president—they’re on the same team.

And if there is any doubt as to just how critical the Hispanic caucus believes amnesty is to its agenda; consider that its members acknowledged that they spent their entire meeting with Obama discussing only immigration reform. No discussion of the economy, no talk of the unemployment figures, no dialog over healthcare, and certainly no consideration of the deficit or the national debt—nope, just amnesty.

As surprising as this may seem given the collapsing economy and growing misery among the American public, it’s for those very reasons that launching another frenzied campaign for amnesty this year makes sense. Quite simply, they see it as their last chance for a long time to come. And given the stakes, there is no question they intend to double-down and go for broke to put an amnesty bill on Obama’s desk before the end of this year.

The network of ethnocentric Latino groups, led by the National Council of La Raza, are expected to pour more than $18 million into the campaign for mass amnesty, a spending spree that is almost certainly going to be supplemented by millions more dollars from business interests determined to keep hungry Americans off their job sites. (If amnesty seems counter-productive to businesses that gouge profits from cheap, illegal labor, then ask yourself why they have long supported it? The answer is that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its allies know amnesty will trigger an even greater wave of illegal immigration; one that will explode the underground labor market and drive wages even lower.)

Their new campaign will promote the same core messaging that their previous, failed drives for amnesty have featured: a) illegal immigrants are working jobs that lazy Americans refuse to do; and b) opponents of “immigration reform” are xenophobic, anti-Latino bigots that hate immigrants and enjoy hurting children. This year they may also claim that their opponents boil puppies and eat spiders, just for good measure.

The Obama administration will use the same claim in the fight for amnesty that it honed during its battle for the trillion-dollar stimulus package: insisting that “immigration reform” has to happen right now, that our economic recovery depends on it and that he won’t brook a prolonged debate on the issue.

In short, he will try to ram it through the House and Senate as fast as he did the stimulus package, crossing his fingers that Congress won’t read this bill before the vote either.

The national media will dutifully fall in behind amnesty—again—intoning dire warnings against Nativist impulses and nationalistic sentiments, warnings that they oddly failed to direct at the half-million people who poured through downtown Los Angeles three years ago this spring waving a sea of Mexican flags, shouting “Viva la Raza!” and chanting prophetically “Si se puede!”

So as Obama prepares to swing for the fences with another amnesty bill, and with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as his base coaches, the fate of any amnesty will come down to another congressional caucus—the Blue Dog Democrats. While amnesty proponents are again likely to find enough votes to get a bill through the Senate; a bulwark of House Republicans is likely to unify against it.

If the majority of the 51 conservative Democrats in the Blue Dog caucus join them, then the bill will die in the House.

The more palatable Obama and Pelosi attempt to make an amnesty to the Blue Dogs—by adding harsher enforcement measures—they risk losing key liberal votes that are already under pressure from labor. And if the bill seems dead in the House, then fewer senators will be willing to stick their necks out with a risky vote on a doomed bill.

This political maneuvering, most of which occurred behind closed doors during previous attempts at amnesty, is certain to reignite the prairie fire of opposition that is still smoldering across a country staggering from successive economic blows. The fire next time will burn even hotter for politicians that vote for amnesty—no matter how loud the McCarthyesque screams of ‘Racism!’ become.

It may be infuriating that Obama is preparing to push for amnesty with the country in this condition; but it’s a pyrrhic victory for its supporters. It shows how desperate they are and how they understand their chances of success grow slimmer with each passing day.

As for Obama, ironically, it may prove to be a win-win proposition: If amnesty passes, he will be remembered as the president (along with Bush) that set the Democrats on path to a permanent majority.

But if he fails, he’s done with it early enough to recover with Main Street voters and can tell the Latino lobby and their big business allies that he gave it his best but the American people finally told him “No, you can’t.”

Mark Cromer is a senior writing fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS).

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