By Joe Guzzardi
January 27, 2012
According to a Gallup poll conducted from January 3-January 8, only those who ideologically identified themselves as liberals indicated more satisfaction than dissatisfaction with the current level of immigration. All others, including moderate Democrats, favor reducing immigration.
The poll, which didn’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration, also found that “Americans’ dissatisfaction with immigration ranks third highest among 17 issues Gallup asked about.” But an earlier Gallup survey in June indicated that Americans overwhelmingly agree that “halting the flow of illegal immigrants at the border” is “extremely important.”
Given Gallup’s findings, the screaming headlines out of Florida this week about the Republican candidates’ immigration views aren’t surprising. But the journalists covering the Florida primary aren’t focused on the right subject.
According to the reporting, the key to victory in Florida—and in the November general election-—is the Hispanic vote.
Obviously, during the remaining primaries and in November, every vote will be important. But it’s the independent voters, those who put President Obama in the White House in 2008, who hold the key. And that voting bloc, much larger than the Hispanics, is unhappy with the President’s record. Taken as a whole, moderates have soured on Obama, disapprove of how he’s managed the economy and have no well-defined idea of what the president hopes to accomplish should he win re-election. Another poll, this one taken by the New York Times/CBS News found that only 31 percent of swing voters have a favorable opinion of the president. Six in ten Americans think that Obama does not share their vision of the future.
If you merge the Gallup and New York Times polls’ findings, Obama’s immigration strategy grows curiouser and curiouser. Ostensibly, his immigration game plan is designed to attract more Hispanics. But it will turn off as many or possibly more independents than it will gain Hispanics.
About six months ago, with Obama’s blessing, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would begin a process that became known as prosecutorial discretion. Summarized, prosecutorial discretion means that certain illegal aliens that DHS perceives as non-threatening will be exempted from deportation proceedings. The targeted number is 300,000 but hints have leaked from well informed sources that the total could be much larger.
Janet Napolitano, Homeland Security Secretary, defends the administration’s illegal action. Napolitano claims that by spending less on deporting what she calls low priority aliens, the government can focus getting hardened criminals out of the country.
Nevertheless, the Executive Branch has no Constitutional authority to pardon illegal aliens. Nowhere are aliens categorized as either threatening or non-threatening. The Executive Branch’s responsibility is to enforce the law, not redefine it.
Prosecutorial discretion or as some call it administrative amnesty is common knowledge only among those who follow immigration closely. But as November draws closer, the practice will become more publicized if for no other reason than Republicans will want to draw attention to it. Assuming you are one of the millions of independents already unhappy, prosecutorial discretion is not likely to persuade you to reconsider. And it may not win as many Hispanic votes as its advocates hope for. Not all Hispanic-Americans condone illegal behavior or support open borders. Latest polling taken among Hispanic-Americans indicated that more than 50 percent want stronger border enforcement.
Americans want immigration enforcement and E-Verify legislation that would ensure that anyone who gets a job is legally authorized to work in the United States. Those are the true swing voters.
Joe Guzzardi has written editorial columns, mostly about immigration and related social issues, since 1986. He is a Senior Writing Fellow for Californians for Population Stabilization (CAPS) and his columns are syndicated in various U.S. newspapers and websites. Contact him at [email protected]