Saturday, June 23, 2012

Power of the Presidency, U.S. Immigration Plan, and the Politics of harvesting Latino and or Hispanic Votes!

Keywords or Terms: President Obama; DREAM ACT; Executive Order; Halting Deportation; Illegal immigrants; Amnesty; Path to Citizenship; Gov. Mitt Romney, Green Card; Advanced Degree Holders; Military Service; Constitutional Authority.

Change: the nation found itself with the greatest revolutionary change regarding how America treats its immigrants or addresses the issue of undocumented immigrants. At stake was the issue of continued existence of close to twelve million undocumented immigrants in the United States. To bring about the promised change, President Obama did what he felt is possible in the absence of congressional support for an immigration reform bill. What President Obama did for undocumented immigrants, some of whom are disproportionately classified as Latinos and or Hispanics are as follows: 1) Halt future deportations of undocumented immigrants under the age of thirty who can arguably show they arrived in the United States before their 16th birthdays; 2) Allow for work authorization for the next two years for younger undocumented immigrants, as long as they hold a GED, have no felony convictions and no more than two misdemeanor convictions. Will this amnesty or waiver involve appreciable change in the way the nation considers the issue of illegal immigration? Or, will it change the President’s fortune with Latinos and Hispanic communities with legal voting rights across the nation?

Regarding the first question, the President has masterfully attempted to change the discussions on illegal immigration during an election year, especially by creating a barrier block between Latinos and Hispanic voters and the presumptive Republican Nominee. To concerned Latinos and Hispanic voters, here is what the President has done on the nation’s immigration problem: 1) without usurping constitutional authority of congress, he has chosen to ignore congressional mandate on enforcements of existing law by issuing an executive order; an order that has gained greater appeal among  many independent voters, many of whom are Latinos and Hispanics; 2) rejuvenated hope for close to one million affected parties or undocumented immigrants, who are living here for reasons beyond their fault; 3) Make good on the implementation of some of the provisions of the DREAM Act (Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act), that has been advanced as one of the legs of the tripod solution to the issue of illegal immigration; and, 4) Arouse once again, an interest in addressing a national problem that Republicans are astutely against, especially the Tea Party group in the Republican Party.

The President articulated these points as he contrasted his speech against Mitt Romney and congressional Republicans before the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. His argument, as trite as critics may want many of us to believe, is indeed a change from where the nation was about a week and a half ago, on the issue of illegal immigration. He attempted to walk a fine line between sounding critical and probably dismissive of his opponent’s argument over what has transpired since his election in 2008; precisely, the state of the economy and how it has impacted people of various political persuasions.

Since he released the executive order, reactions from voters have been either positive or negative, with majority independent groups affirming support for the new policy. For whatever insightfulness the order has garnered, the Republicans remain unsatisfied with how the President has gone about resolving this issue temporarily, calling it, either an amnesty or a path to citizenship. A few, including Republican Representative Steve King, have sworn to file a suit challenging the President’s authority to effectively conduct an immigration policy; hoping to undo the President’s authority to bypass congress. The dynamics of the executive order and criticisms from the Republicans are these: the immigration issue has been entangled in the campaign for the oval office; and, the question over whose side the Latino voters are likely to default come November 6, 2012. Now, going by the reception of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in the outgoing week in Florida, one is tempted to give an edge to President Barack Obama.

The politics of the executive order is that it places the presumptive Republican Nominee, Mitt Romney, in a box. With the Press on his heels for response, the presumptive Republican nominee has not been able to fathom an effective response to the President’s order. When pressed by CBS Bob Shaffer, if he will change the President’s executive order if elected, all Governor Romney said is that whatever he is going to initiate with respect to illegal immigration under his administration, will effectively overtake the executive order. Pressed even further and harder, if he will repeal the supposed amnesty, Mitt Romney failed to make a commitment.

Political pundits indicate that the reason why Romney has been unable to give an upfront response is because he is aligned with the Tea Party faction in the Republican Party. Supporters of the President executive order, indicate that the order is a ray of hope for many youthful Latinos and or Hispanics, who have been languishing in somewhat of a hopeless limbo, before the order. Quoting one of the supporters of the President’s action, this actually indicates that he truly gets it - the greatest concern of nearly all undocumented immigrants at this time, is the fear that their families will be broken apart, if the United States government continues to deport at the very unprecedented rate under President Obama.

Changing the Law: Supporters of the executive order further indicate that President Obama not only brought about renewed interests in resolving the immigration problem, but also huge insightfulness that could change the debate on how to move forward regarding resolution of illegal immigration, when congress gets around to debating the issue. Unfortunately, Senate republican leader Mitch McConnell insists that if the executive order leads to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, then it is arguably an amnesty; and, Republicans are truly against that. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla) sees the executive order as a backdoor opportunity to allow people to vote; Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), Chairman of House Judiciary Committee, interprets the executive order as a breach of faith with the American People; an executive ploy that blatantly ignores the rule of law; and, a huge policy shift that may serve as a magnet for undocumented immigrants and amnesty.

Many objective observers or independent voters see the President’s action as a last ditch effort to get things done in the absence of true support for immigration reform from both chambers of congress. We now know that the Dream Act, S. 2205, initially introduced in Oct, 2007, by Senator Dick Durbin, and Co-sponsored by Charles Hagel and Richard Lugar, remains out there for deliberation or consideration. We also know that the 2010 re-introduced New Dream Act, Bill S.3992, with numerous changes to S.2205, is also out there for attention. Further, it is no secret that in May 2011, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reintroduced the DREAM Act, with former supporters, Senator John McCain (R-AZ); Jon Kyl (R-AZ); Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senator John Corny (R-TX), holding back their initial support for the bill. No wonder the bill failed to carry the required votes to prevent a filibuster in congress. In addition, if the State of California is able to accomplish passing the DREAM Act in their state within a short time of consideration, why is anyone blaming the President for issuing out an executive order, or doing part of what Congress has failed to do, which effectively brings a dream to reality for close to one million young undocumented immigrants? For the records, there are about three pieces of legislation and an executive order that congress can begin to act on, right this moment, if they want to correct for whatever anomaly or disagreements they have with the President issuing an executive order.

Complicated politics: Attempt by Democrats under President Obama to pass the Dream Act in 2010 lame-duck session met some vociferous antagonism from Republicans. As the  presumptive Republican Nominee was striving to boost his image with the Latinos and or Hispanics this week, he is probably finding out that the hard-core conservative Republican stance on undocumented immigrants is hardly going to work. This is probably one reason, why Mitt Romney sees the executive order as an attempt by President Obama to secure Hispanic votes, in a tight election landscape. In an attempt to win over more Latino voter for his aspiration for the White House, Mitt Romney advances the following hyperbolas: give green cards to advanced degree holders and those who serve in the Military. His stance on self deportation by illegal immigrants remains. While criticizing President Obama for advancing the amnesty order only to curry votes from Hispanics, Mitt Romney failed to offer details of his own proposals that Latinos and or Hispanics can believe in; and, which might help him make inroads into Latinos and or Hispanic votes, come November

There are some apprehensive supporters of Mitt Romney’s campaign, who say, it is probably too late, if not completely infeasible for Mitt Romney to recalibrate his statement during the Republican Party Primaries. One will recall that in the heat of the Republican Nomination debates and process, aspirant Mitt Romney said that those illegal immigrants will self depot. A laughable proposal, which critics’ retort, those who self-deport can easily self-reenter as usual! When another Republican aspirant, Governor Rick Perry of the State of Texas, cautioned about such a proposal, he was effectively ridiculed by Republican conservatives who support aggressive anti-illegal immigration stance. To this group, Mitt Romney’s position was best; and, Rick Perry’s, a disdain and unacceptable! The chicken has finally come to rousts towards the general election, as it has become rather difficult for Governor Mitt Romney to do an Etch-A-Sketch on the immigration issue.

Summing it up – changes in the immigration landscape appear to have crept into the 2012 Presidential Campaign politics and no one can stop it now. It is disheartening to realize that the President had resorted to an executive order to accomplish what the United States Congress has failed to do. To hackle the President for issuing the executive order; or, bastardize his action as circumventing the constitution, may actually be naïve, since the constitution gives the Presidency the power to issue executive order as it deems fit, absent Congressional authority. Two things that are incontrovertible from here on, the executive order from the Presidency will remain for the next two years as long as President Obama remains in office. The executive order may have changed the President’s fortune for the better with Latinos and the Hispanics in the Presidential Campaign for 2012.
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