Immigration fight in U.S. will fire up wrong base

By Robert Heiler

During the 2008 U.S. presidential Race, Senator John McCain spent no small amount of time climbing down from his previous stance on immigration reform. He repeated many times that he had "gotten the message" from the public's response to a bill that many saw as another amnesty of the type passed in 1986. That message, McCain said, was, "Secure the borders first." His implication was that the nation would perhaps tolerate another amnesty, if their fears of continued lax (or nonexistent) enforcement of current immigration laws were allayed.

His opponent in that election appears to have drawn some other conclusion. He is eyeing a battle over immigration reform as a means of invigorating his party's midterm election efforts. It will likely have the opposite effect.

President Barack Obama has approval ratings below 50%. He has enjoyed none of the promised "bounce" from passing his health insurance reform. Why that surprises is anyone's guess, as it was clear for many months that most Americans did not want to see it passed. Nancy Pelosi may have needed passage to find out what was in it, but the majority of voters were (and remain) pretty sure it was nothing they wanted.

Analysts across the political spectrum anticipate a very rough November for the president's party. Specific arguments for this analysis abound, but they all point to the same basic reality: the Obama agenda is completely out of phase with the current political zeitgeist. This administration is hell-bent on expanding the scope, reach and power of the federal government at a time when large and growing numbers of people have decided that it's already too large, too powerful and too expensive.

ObamaCare is just the beginning. The FDA is planning to mandate lower sodium levels in processed foods. The EPA has declared carbon dioxide a pollutant, which brings its regulation under their purview and enables federal interference in any activity that involves burning fuel. The FDIC, if Democrats get their way, is about to be granted new power over the financial system that will affect millions of businesses, not just banks. And presidential economic advisers have begun public fulmination on the coming necessity of a Value Added Tax - because we have to pay the salaries of all these federal busy bodies somehow.

If anyone is waiting for Barack Obama to stunt the growth of the Leviathan, he has allowed his ballyhooed hope to morph into sheer delusion. Certainly Obama and his advisers can see the growing gulf between their exploits and the preferences of a clear majority of those likely to vote in November. But expanding the power of government is non-negotiable; it is a bedrock principle.

What to do then? The only hope lies in expanding the universe of likely November voters. The campaign strategy must add Democratic voters to this universe in large numbers to have any chance of hanging onto the House of Representatives. That is why Obama issued his two-minute plea, specifically to "young people, African Americans, Latinos and women" whom he says "powered" his victory in 2008.

It should surprise no one that these are the groups Obama would like to motivate. Young people, spellbound by Obama's calls for hope and change, voted overwhelmingly for him in 2008. African-Americans did too, and plenty of polls indicate they continue to support Obama in the range of 90-95%. But the president's targeting of Latinos and women is somewhat more problematic.

With women, President Obama was demographically imprecise. What he truly wants is for single women to get out and vote. Married women will not benefit him much. The gender gap in American politics is actually a matrimony gap - which points up its origin. Single women, especially those with children, are drawn to the promise of security that larger government suggests.

To appeal to Latinos, his allies in Congress have indicated that they will address "comprehensive" immigration reform in the next three weeks. His hope is that he can, by provoking a hyper-partisan political knife-fight over immigration, convince Latinos everywhere that Republicans' resistance to such reform is a form of racism. But the real racism here is the implicit assumption that Latinos, as a bloc, are in favor of amnesty for illegals.

In the real world, many Latinos (or their forebears) entered this country legally - and they resent someone else being rewarded with citizenship for breaking the law. And since very few Republicans are actually racist, painting the party with that brush will be very difficult - especially since nearly all of them would gladly sign onto expanding legal immigration, once the borders are secured.

But here is the greater flaw in this political strategy: Obama, unlike McCain, did not get the message. His "comprehensive" immigration reform fails to comprehend that most of America wants to see our borders sealed. The reasons are legion: economics, culture, sovereignty, rule of law, national security, basic fairness. Here again, the president will find his agenda out of step with the desires of the people.

He would probably do more for his party's electoral prospects if he just forbade all Democrats, until election day, from uttering the word, "comprehensive." The public is tiring of it, of the hubris and power lust that it reveals, and of the intent to expand government that it announces.


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Well, I bet this article gets only a couple of comments!

"The FDIC, if Democrats get their way, is about to be granted new power over the financial system that will affect millions of businesses, not just banks." Mmmm, the idea to put consumer protection in the FDIC is a REPUBLICAN idea, but don't let that get in the way.

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We're a country of laws... legal immigrants have rights also, and they dont' want illegal immigrants breaking the law by being in the country. We need a worker visa program on the border.

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The only way to help Mexico is to hold them responsible to their citizens. Libs may not like it -but in a case like this good fences make good neighbors. -richest man lives in Mexico.

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I don't the number of Japanese nationals entering the US illegally is a particularly large.

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Why do you think the President is in favor of amnesty for illegal immigrants? He and his administration are clearly not. One need only read the homepage to see the facts.

"President Obama believes that our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws, and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants. He believes our immigration policy should be driven by our best judgment of what is in the economic interest of the United States and what is in the best interest of the American worker. President Obama recognizes that an orderly, controlled border and an immigration system designed to meet our economic needs are important pillars of a healthy and robust economy.

Strengthen Border Control

President Obama will protect the integrity of our borders by investing in additional personnel, infrastructure, and technology on the border and at our ports of entry.

Improve Our Immigration System

President Obama will fix the dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy and enable legal immigration so that families can stay together.

Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally

President Obama will remove incentives to enter the country illegally by preventing employers from hiring undocumented workers and enforcing the law.

Bring People Out of the Shadows

President Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Work with Mexico

President Obama will promote economic development in Mexico to decrease the economic desperation that leads to illegal immigration."

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Mexico's politicians, and government is very corrupt!! That's where the majority of their economic problems lie!! It is not the United States responsibility, to provide a better way of life for Mexico's citizens, but rather, it is Mexico's responsibility, to provide abetter way of life for it's own citizens. And what exactly does "back of the line" mean? If they're already in the U.S., what constitutes going to the back of the line, if they got into the U.S. ahead of people who are/have been waiting to enter the U.S. by doing it the right way? Will they have to go back to their country of origin, and then wait to re-enter the U.S.? Other than that, "back of the line" really doesn't mean anything!!

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Not a good time to push an immigration plan when 1in5 non-legal-immigrants is jobless.

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Excellent piece, Mr. Heiler! You get it. Let's hope the rest of the US does too.

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Mexico is actually a very rich country with oil and good agriculture + they have a good coastline. =This is a country that has all the assets to do well. Stand-up for yourselves and fellow citizens and push the corrupt bankers and politicians out.

=you are not helping your fellow citizens by running away from your problems.

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Badsey: Another excellent point you bring up, that is often overlooked. I believe that Mexico's economy ranks 14th in the world.

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And since very few Republicans are actually racist,

And on what grounds does this right wing leaning article base that on ?

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Even though I am not American, I personally admire the new Immigration laws in the State pof Arizona. I wish the government of my country had the same guts. All the left-wing media only focus on the rights of the illegals, and not on the poor innocent people of Arizona who have been brutalized by the illegals. They dont even reoprt that. I read that one Arizona farmer living near the border has been robbed and attacked many times, and has found 17 dead bodies on his land. The current left-wing Federal Government, of course, couldnt give a rat`s ass about decent ordinary farmers, who are American citizens, because they are so politically correct. Political Correctness is a cancer that is destroying modern society.

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And on what grounds does this right wing leaning article base that on ?

On the lack of any ACTUAL racist acts or comments being made?

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"And since very few Republicans are actually racist..."

You have GOT to be kidding! After living in the USA for 59 years, that certainly has not been my experience! Unfortunately, there are still many racists in my country, and many of them are "white" right wing republican types, especially in the southern states.

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As an op ed piece, I respect that the author has a different opinion that I or someone else may hold. But it doesn't sound like he's making a convincing argument for anything, just repeating what he believes. He could certainly argue for something constructive, but the only thing I see is complaining and bashing. Which is perfectly fine if there's a purpose to it. A lot of things are simply assertions of opinion as fact - it may well be perfectly true but you need to back it up. Just being constructive here.

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this article is nonsense.

the problem with the law is that it makes a large % of the population of arizona criminals based on the colour of their skin. illegal immigration needs to be stopped but that is not the intention of this bill.if they wanted to stop illegal immigration they should fine the companies employing them.but of course the republicans wont do that. they want it both ways-cheap workers and demonising those they are encouraging to come and employing. you know during the boom a few yrs ago the big companies would send buses down to mexico city to bus in illegals?? most ironic is that quite a number of the people who are now demonized under the law are descendents of people who have been living in arizona a lot longer than white people have.

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