Obama: the pro-migrant choice
Under the assumptions that (a) a Democrat will win the White House this year and (b) that whoever is crowned the "winner" by the media after Super Tuesday will be the Democratic nominee (this second assumption may be on shakier ground than the first), tomorrow's primary election in selected states might be more important than the November general election.
So from a pro-migrant, progressive perspective, which of the two leading Democratic candidates is preferable on the issue of immigration? This blogger concludes that Obama--though far from perfect--is the better candidate for migrants.
Update: [Well, my assumption that Super Tuesday would be the end of the Democratic primary race was quite ill-informed. I hope the rest of my observations hold up a little better.]
I won't pretend to be unbiased or objective--I've been an
Obama supporter from the beginning.
Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton . . . can you spot the problem with this
pattern? Also, the War in
But setting aside other issues for now, which candidate would I pick, as an advocate for migrants? Both Clinton and Obama are likely to push for more sensible, humane immigration policies than we have now. Both supported comprehensive reform. By the same token, both voted for the border wall. And, as I noted last fall, Obama's stated positions on immigration left much to be desired.
But at least he was participating in the conversation; he reached out and grabbed that mythical deadly third rail that nobody else wanted to touch.
Recently, partly in an attempt to cut into
[W]e were disappointed with [Clinton's] calculated opposition to driver's licenses for the undocumented, which contrasts markedly from the forceful argument in support made by Obama. We understand that this is an extremely controversial issue but we believe there is only one right position and it is that of the senator from Illinois. And, while both senators support comprehensive immigration reform, only Obama has committed to bringing forward new legislation during his first year in office.
It is this commitment to the immigration issue which drove Obama to condemn the malicious lies made during the immigration debate, to understand the need for driver's licenses, and to defend the rights of undocumented students by co-authoring the DREAM Act. The senator has demonstrated character by maintaining his position despite the hostile political climate.
Word on the street is that Clinton doesn't plan to
address immigration until her second term. If true, that is far too
long to wait.
Suppose you were a single issue voter, and your single issue was immigration. Specifically, you were opposed to legislation that combines some form of amnesty (legalization of existing illegal immigrants) with tougher border enforcement. If so, you would probably be pretty depressed right now--three of the four leading presidential candidates explicitly favor such "comprehensive" reform. The fourth, Mitt Romney is the least likely to win. And even he's suspected of being a closet comprehensivist.
But you still have to vote. Before you did, you'd want to ask: Which of the three pro-legalization candidates is least likely to accomplish their legislative goal? When you think about it this way, a clear and somewhat surprising ranking of top three emerges.
1) Hillary Clinton would probably be the best president for anti-comprehensivists. She's cautious. She's been burned by GOP opposition before (to her 1994 health plan). Is she really going attempt both health care reform and immigration reform in her first two years? Remember, Rahm Emmanuel's swing-state Democratic congressmen typically ran tough-on-illegals campaigns. They're squeamish about voting for "amnesty." If Hillary is president (meaning John McCain isn't president) the Republicans are likely to unite against a Democratic legalization plan. Meanwhile, Hillary's political adviser James Carville is on record suggesting that legalization, like welfare, is a potential election-loser. Hillary suppporter Paul Krugman seems one of those remaining economists who actually believe in supply and demand--i.e., that an increase in the supply of immigrant labor can drive down unskilled wages. And Hillary herself has made anti-illegals noises in the past, including reversing her endorsement of Gov. Spitzer's drivers license plan.
2) Barack Obama, on the other hand, may actually believe his standard-left immigration positons. He's shown an ability to bridge the partisan divide and get things done. All deeply troubling, in this case.. But at least he too would have a hard time getting both a health care plan and immigration legislation through Congress against opposition from Republicans (McCain having lost).
3) President McCain . . .
[Here Kaus explains why John McCain is going to flip-flop again and embrace his pro-migrant roots, defying what is currently the most passionate segment of the GOP base. I don't buy it, but I'd argue it's a moot point anyway (see my first assumption above).]
Back to Kaus:
P.S.: OK,, I'm not just just saying. If I thought either Clinton or Obama would do a much better job on health care, that would be one thing. But both seem well-positioned to actually pass some big, broad health plan. An immigration plan, on the other hand, seems much iffier. It could pass or fail depending on who's president. And, unlike a health care plan, an immigration legalization bill is likely to have large, irreversible consequences. Misconceived health plans can be altered or repealed (remember "catastrophic insurance"?). But if a misconceived immigration amnesty attracts millions of new illegal entrants who then have to be given citizenship--on top of the new citizens created by the amnesty itself--it won't just lower unskilled wages etc. It will profoundly alter the very electorate that will have to consider any future change of course.
In this context, single-issue voting could be a highly responsible course.
Vote Hillary. She won't get it done! ...
So that is what Kaus thinks.
Clinton has bought into the flawed "third rail" narrative and
doesn't plan to waste precious political capital on a potentially
futile quest to reform the immigration system. But what if Kaus is
pitching some reverse psychology voodoo at us, you
say? How do we know he's not just
engaged in a double bluff psychout (don't judge me on my pseudo poker jargon--I don't play the game) to try
to drive voters away from the candidate who has the political connections and
broad support to push a big reform bill through Congress the way Obama never could?
Well, the guys at ImmigrationProf Blog seem to agree with Kaus. And they've been studying migration a lot longer than I have.Bill Hing takes issue with Clinton's harsh statements on due process rights for immigrants charged with crimes:
[I]t does not look like Hillary Clinton is for the reinstatement of INA Section 212(c)-type relief for longterm LPRs convicted of certain crimes that existed prior to 1996. I'm disappointed in her unwillingness to consider discretionary relief for folks who are deserving of a second chance. Of course her husband started all this by signing the tragic 1996 legislation.
[Then, quoting a NY Sun article by Josh Gerstein:]
A vow to give the boot to criminal aliens has become an almost daily part of the
senator's presidential campaign spiel on overhauling the immigration system. New York
"Anybody who committed a crime in this country or in the country they came from has to be deported immediately, with no legal process. They are immediately gone," Mrs. Clinton told a town hall meeting in
, Thursday. On Wednesday, she told a crowd in Anderson, S.C. , that such criminals "absolutely" need to be deported. A day earlier, she told a rally in North Bergen, N.J. , that aliens with criminal records "should be deported, no questions asked." Salinas, Calif.
Hing likes the optimism and hope Obama has engendered in a broad range of voters.
Kevin Johnson highlights Obama's support for driver's
licenses for undocumented people, in contrast to
KJ also notes that:
Obama's immigration platform includes, among other things, fixing the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and increasing the number of legal immigrants to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill. Such current positions, not past failed proposals, should attract the Latino vote.
Duke at Migra Matters points out that there were only two sitting senators who joined the marchers on May 1, 2006: Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama. Here is what Obama said a few days after the marches.
...to those who are fearful of these immigrants, in some cases because they have come to represent a loss of control for the country and its borders, I would just say to them that we can't have a country in which you have a servant class that is picking our lettuce or plucking our chickens or looking after our children or mowing our lawns but who never have the full rights and obligations of citizenship. That's just not the kind of country that I want to have my children grow up in and my hope is that over the coming months we can come up with the kind of comprehensive, thoughtful legislation that I think the Senate bill reflects and we can have strong border security, we can have employers do the right thing by hiring those who are here legally in some fashion, but that we also provide all those families, children, elderly people and teenagers that I saw in that amazing march on Monday the opportunity to be full members of the American community.
Where was Clinton on May 1, 2006?
And finally, here is an excerpt from Nezua's recent post that struck a chord with me:
I am someone who for most of his life, didn't care about politics, and didn't believe in our government. I still think it's a rigged system, I still want to see our international presence altered drastically, I still see our priorities as being way off, I see law used as a weapon of conquest and control and suppression and ethnic agenda. I think our electoral college is a joke, and I think the vote is often stolen and manipulated. I am always an inch away from turning my back on the whole thing. And even I have to admit that a populace that adopts this attitude is in danger. Obama makes me want to give it a shot, a real shot. The thought of HRC Inc™ up in there again makes me want to return to disengagement. I don't think I'm alone in this.
Nez, you are not.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Obama: the pro-migrant choice.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Seeing Clinton’s persistent lead in the polls among Latin@ voters, and drawing criticism from some initially sympathetic sources for lackluster outreach efforts, the Obama campaign decided last week after Super Tuesday to guest blog on Marisa Treviño’s... Read More
The failure of the Democrats to pass the DREAM Act in December prompted the Washington Post and Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) to declare President Obama's immigration reform strategy a failure. Ali Noorani of the National Immigration Forum expl... Read More