Obama Can’t Handle Immigration Reform

The leading proposal will curtail liberties without making life better for immigrants.

Op-Ed by Shikha Dalmia

America’s immigration system is badly broken and in desperate need of fixing. And that is precisely why President Barack Obama should not be allowed to touch it. After the bruising battle over ObamaCare, he has simply no political muscle left to resist the horrible restrictionist ideas that are already beginning to arise.

Immigration advocates, particularly from the Latino community, are prodding President Obama to make good on his campaign pledge to revamp the nation’s immigration system. They held a rally in the National Mall — at the very moment that the Senate was voting on the controversial health care bill, absurdly enough — demanding action. Similar pressure is coming from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

It is not that anyone believes that a reform bill can actually become law this year. They just want the Senate (where the issue is less radioactive) to vote on something so that there will be a basis for action after the elections.

The problem is that it is painfully evident that any basis established now will be a terrible one — worse than nothing.

Anyone who has had to deal with America’s immigration system knows what a crazy, confusing and, at times, cruel mess it is. (Do click on the link here, dear readers, for an eloquent pictorial representation of this point.) It seems to operate on the assumption that it is its patriotic duty to harass anyone wishing to come to America. Even getting a tourist visa for overseas family or friends of Americans is an ordeal. Unless they are from a country with which America has a treaty suspending the visa requirement, they have to convince their local immigration consulate that they have enough property and social ties at home that they won’t just drop everything and move in with you permanently!…

…There is no reason to hope that President Obama will be willing — or able — to fight these measures and get a humane bill that respects the liberties of Americans. Even under the best of circumstances, immigration reform is a rancorous issue that arouses powerful nativist passions. Countering them requires a leader who can appeal to the better angels of Americans and show them how more-open immigration policies are not only consistent with their interests but also their deepest ideals of individual rights and liberties. But few believe that President Obama shares those ideals after his big government takeover of health care. And it is not clear that he even wants to make that case given that he has already strongly endorsed Graham-Schumer — without expressing any reservation about its national ID provision…

Read the entire article at Forbes.com

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