By Joe Guzzardi
July 29, 2011
Earlier this week, President Barack Obama addressed the National Council of La Raza’s annual convention where he repeated his amnesty promise for at least 10 million illegal aliens. As Obama has done many times before, he blamed Congressional Republicans for standing in his way.
Promising to “keep up this fight,” Obama used the La Raza event as another campaign stop in his ongoing effort to secure the November 2012 Hispanic vote, normally referred to in the mainstream media as “crucial”.
Speaking about what he referred to as an opportunity for “innocent young people” to get an advanced education, Obama told his audience: "The Democrats and your president are with you. Don’t get confused about that. Remember who it is that we need to move in order to actually change the laws."
First, Obama suffers from acute memory loss. In his all-out effort to pass the DREAM Act during last year’s lame duck session, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill and delivered it to the Senate for approval. However, six Senate Democrats opposed the DREAM Act, thereby killing it.
Obama had his chance last year when the Democrats controlled both Congressional chambers. But he couldn’t sell the DREAM Act to his Democratic colleagues. The simple reason: the DREAM Act is bad legislation, hastily and irresponsibly written, that has much broader than advertised consequences—like amnesty for millions of DREAM Act family members—and is widely rejected by most Americans.
Throughout his speech, Obama made several references to his willingness to act independently on immigration reform. But he’s already circumvented the Constitution. A now notorious internal bulletin initiated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement director John Morton established new discretionary guidelines identifying which illegal aliens should be deported and which allowed to remain. According to the memo, students should be given favorable consideration.
Second, Obama and his campaign advisors are missing the forest for the trees. Traditionally, Hispanics vote Democrat. Despite all the brouhaha about the growing Latino voter base, the Democrats’ challenge is to get them to the polls. In the meantime, the Independent voters who put Obama in the White House and who he needs for reelection have grown nervous and disillusioned with his administration.
Obama’s pandering to Hispanic activists doesn’t automatically translate into votes. In the 2010 National Survey of Latinos, pollsters found that immigration ranked only fifth among the most important issues to Hispanics behind education, jobs, health care and the federal deficit and barely ahead of the environment and the Afghanistan war.
These results raise the most interesting questions of all: Who really supports and who really opposes illegal immigration? In favor are Washington D.C. politicians, lobbyists like La Raza and employers of illegal immigrants who benefit from the low wages paid to them. Opposed are American citizens including naturalized, working Hispanics. For that demographic, more immigration hurts them since recently arrived immigrants often will work for lower wages.
Since both native-born Americans and naturalized Hispanics list jobs as their greatest concern, Obama should take the clue. The key to his re-election isn’t giving flowery speeches to Washington, D.C-based ethnic identity groups but rather on appealing to a broader audience concerned about persistently high unemployment.
Obama’s real solution to higher employment should be mandatory E-Verify which would root illegal aliens out of the jobs they hold and open them up for Americans and legal immigrants.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorials—mostly about immigration and related social issues since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns have frequently been syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected].