U.S. Electoral Politics: January 2011 Archives

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Some readers may wonder why I have spent so much time writing about Barack Obama and his action or inaction on immigration reform.

For example:

Obama Resumes Deportations to Ravaged Haiti
Obama and Fox News Latino Can't Have It Both Ways On Immigration
Pedro Gutierrez Asks President Obama to Defer His Deportation
Obama Praises DREAM Act While Deporting Dreamers
Obama: Deporting Immigrants So Republicans Don't Have To

And I'm not the only one:

Buyer Beware! Obama: The Deporter and Job Killer in Chief
"Obama is not the answer because he IS the problem"
Man the Deportations: Full Speed Ahead!
Halfway Through Term, Obama Still Hasn't Earned His Nobel Prize
Heroes and Zeroes of Immigrant Rights in 2010

... and many others.

But isn't the president a supporter of comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act?

Didn't his Department of Justice sue Arizona to prevent implementation of the SB1070 racial profiling law?

Wouldn't it make more sense to spend time and energy pushing Republicans to compromise, to punish them politically for opposing comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act? Hasn't the real struggle moved away from federal legislation to the state and local level?

I think these are questions worth discussing, but I still believe the best national focus for action to achieve immigrant rights objectives is President Obama.

Each national politician who voted against the DREAM Act should be held accountable for betraying migrant youth. And there is a lot of work--both on offense and on defense--to be done on the state and local level.

But the immigrant rights movement should not neglect federal politicians or the 2012 presidential campaign, which has already begun.

First, Obama can be moved politically. The GOP's incentives are more mixed, and on balance run against supporting fair immigration reform.

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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 explained the "pickle of epic proportions" that the administration was in:

Republicans would now cry foul if the administration eased up on deportations, he said. But Latinos are losing patience with a strategy that has led to pain without gain for their communities.

Nevertheless, according to the Post, the Obama administration is doubling down on its "enforcement-first" strategy, having "no plans to pull back on enforcement just because Republicans are unlikely to support a bipartisan overhaul of immigration laws in the next two years."

How did the Democrats' immigration reform strategy fail so thoroughly? What went wrong? And why is President Obama still committed to a failed strategy?

In a Racewire doubleheader, it looks like neither Fox News nor President Obama can make up their minds on immigration and the growing U.S. Latin@ population.

Fox News wants Latin@s to watch one of its channels, and white nativists to watch the other.


Obama
wants to be both Deporter in Chief and champion of immigrants.

If Obama doesn't become a true champion of immigrant communities and continues to deport record numbers of immigrants, he will lose in 2012. At this point, though, it's hard to see how the next president could be worse than this one for immigrants in the U.S. Getting him out of office would be a step forward, not a step back.

From the Economist on the Tucson shooting:

Opportunists who seek to gain political advantage by blaming the shootings on words would do America better service if they focused on bullets. In no other decent country could any civilian, let alone a deranged one, legally get his hands on a Glock semi-automatic. Even in America, the extended 31-shot magazine that Mr Loughner used was banned until 2004. As the Brady Centre, established after the Reagan shooting to commemorate one of its victims, has noted, more Americans were killed by guns in the 18 years between 1979 and 1997 than died in all of America's foreign wars since its independence. Around 30,000 people a year are killed by one of the almost 300m guns in America--almost one for every citizen. Those deaths are not just murders and suicides: some are accidents, often involving children.


The tragedy is that gun control is moving in the wrong direction. The Clinton-era ban on assault weapons expired in 2004 and, to his discredit, Mr Obama has done nothing to try to revive it. In 2008 the Supreme Court struck down Washington, DC's ban on handguns, and in 2010 Chicago's went the same way; others are bound to follow. In state after state the direction of legislation is to remove restrictions on gun use (those footling bans on bringing weapons into classrooms or churches or bars), rather than to enhance them.

I'm not sure what the Economist's definition of a "decent country" is, but I take the point to be that the U.S. far outpaces all other wealthy countries in both the rate of gun violence and overall homicide rate. Yet Americans continue under the delusion that guns keep us safer.

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Via Dreamactivist.org, please take action to stop ICE from deporting Dreamer Pedro Gutierrez:

1. Send a fax asking for his deportation to be delayed! (Thanks to America's Voice for their staunch support of Dreamers.)

2. Sign the petition urging members to step in and stop his deportation.

3. Make 5 calls for Pedro

Despite President Obama's expressions of support for Dreamers, under his supervision, ICE continues to deport Dreamers every single day. Until President Obama takes administrative action to defer the deportation of Dreamers in removal proceedings, his words of support remain just that: words.

At this moment, President Obama is the single person whose actions most directly negatively affect Dreamers, and he is also the single person with the most power to stop these deportations. He can only continue to say one thing and do another as long as he is not called out on this hypocrisy.

Stanley Renshon of the Center for Immigration Studies, an anti-immigrant think tank, wrote last week about the DREAM Act:

Anyone with a heart as well as brain recognizes that children brought here by their parents illegally at a very young age are different in many ways from those old enough to know better but who choose to break our immigration laws almost wholly to satisfy their own self-interest.

The question is: what to do about this difficult set of circumstances?

The answer is simple: Pass the DREAM Act.

But Renshon and the two other "compassionate" conservatives he cites in his blog post--Mark Krikorian and Debra Saunders--don't support the DREAM Act in its most recent form. Instead, they discuss some future DREAM Act to be written by conservative lawmakers which would "not include egregious loopholes."

I am skeptical for a few reasons.