Federation For Immigration Reform | In a speech given in El Paso, Texas, President Obama told Americans the border is secure. The President quickly followed these remarks by declaring that it is now time for Congress to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform.
The President first made his case that the border is secure: “[I]n recent years, among one of the greatest impediments to reform were questions about border security…. And these concerns helped unravel a bipartisan coalition that we had forged back when I was in the United States Senate…. But over the last two years, thanks to the outstanding work of [Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano] and [Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin] and everybody who’s down here working at the border, we’ve answered those concerns…. We have gone above and beyond what was requested by the very Republicans who said they supported broader reform as long as we got serious about enforcement. All the stuff they asked for, we’ve done.”
Having stated that the border is sufficiently secure, the President made the case that it was time for Congress to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform. He told his audience that granting amnesty to illegal aliens is a moral and economic imperative. America, he said, is defined as a “nation of immigrants – a nation that welcomes those willing to embrace America’s ideals and America’s precepts.” Ignoring the long-established rule of law on which citizenship is gained, the President said that “in embracing America, you can become American.”
The President acknowledged that illegal aliens have broken the rules. “They’ve cut in front of the line,” he said. “And what is also true is that the presence of so many illegal immigrants makes a mockery of all those who are trying to immigrate legally.” The President also acknowledged that the employment of illegal aliens also hurts American workers and upstanding employers: “[It] puts companies who follow the rules, and Americans who rightly demand the minimum wage or overtime or just a safe place to work—it puts those businesses at a disadvantage.”
Nevertheless, the President then outlined a four-step approach to tackling comprehensive immigration reform. First, he said, the government has to take responsibility for securing the borders. He reiterated that the Administration believes this first task has already been successfully accomplished. Second, the President said that businesses must be held accountable if they exploit undocumented workers. Third, the President said illegal aliens must “get right with the law,” meaning illegal aliens must pay their taxes, pay a fine and learn English. Finally, President Obama promoted expanding legal immigration so that it is “easier for the best and brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here.” Apparently forgetting the existence of the H-2A agricultural guest worker program and an item called the green card, the President said Congress must “provide our farms a legal way to hire workers that they rely on, and a path for those workers to earn legal status. And our laws should respect families following the rules [by] reuniting them more quickly instead of splitting them apart.” President Obama concluded his speech by rallying the audience around a renewed fight for the DREAM Act, amnesty legislation which was unable to pass in a Democrat-controlled Congress last session.
The President then headed back to D.C. to speak before the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday, where he reiterated his El Paso speech. (See The New York Times, May 10, 2011; Real Clear Politics, May 12, 2011) At the breakfast, the President appealed to the emotional aspects of immigration reform. He once again described “comprehensive” immigration reform a “moral imperative when simply enforcing the law may mean inflicting pain on families who are just trying to do the right thing by their children.” Obama invoked the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy and cautioned listeners to “not have amnesia about how we populated this country.”
Although the Administration has touted the security of the border in recent engagements, most do not agree with the President’s renewed assertion that the border is secure. In a statement made after the President’s speech, Arizona Republican Senators John Kyl (R-AZ) and John McCain (R-AZ) remarked “we hear from our constituents on a daily basis, and, while some progress has been made in some areas, they do not believe the border is secure.” (Washington Post, May 13, 2011) A recent Rasmussen Report reveals that Americans living outside of Arizona agree, with 64 percent of U.S. Citizens polled saying the border is not secure. (Rasmussen Reports, May 13, 2011)
The Presidents’ speeches last week are an indication of how important immigration reform measures and the Latino vote will be in the 2012 election. As part of his campaign, the President will be attempting to cater to the Hispanic voters who overwhelmingly favored him in 2008, as well as political independents who want stronger border security. (Washington Post, May 13, 2011)
American Third Position’s view on mass immigration: We’ll effect an immediate moratorium on immigration, and we’ll make it impossible for illegals to remain in our land, by heavily penalizing those who hire or house them.