16 June 2012

Obama's illegal-alien initiative

While I've always been opposed to any amnesty for illegal aliens, it's hard to see much downside to this proposal.  The only people able to take advantage of it would be those who were brought into the US illegally as children by their parents, and who grew up here, knowing the US much better than their country of origin; realistically, this is not a group that was ever going to be deported anyway, nor leave voluntarily due to employer sanctions.  Concerns about a "magnet effect" -- encouraging more illegal immigration -- carry more weight, but the recent decline in illegal immigration to the US is probably due mainly to improving conditions in Mexico, and a fairly marginal change in US policy, vulnerable to reversal by a future President, seems unlikely to have much impact.

Politically, I think it's much less risky than it appears.  True, a hard line on illegal immigration is broadly popular (Arizona's tough 2010 law drew 51%-to-39% support nationwide), but those who feel so strongly about this as to actually vote against Obama over a move to stop deportations of people who came here as children and grew up here -- well, those voters were no doubt in the Republican camp already.  This isn't going to cost us any votes we could otherwise have won.  But it could boost Hispanic turn-out, which has historically been low, and thus help Democrats, especially in certain states critical to Obama's re-election.

Of more value, it will deepen splits among Republicans, by agitating and energizing the foaming-at-the-mouth far right just as Romney is trying to pivot to the center (and to make some appeal to Hispanics).  Romney somewhat reassured the Morlocks during the primaries by talking tough on illegals, even managing to get to the right of Rick Perry on the issue during the debates.  He's doubtless hoping the general electorate has forgotten this, but Obama has now reminded them.  Romney's now making moderate noises, but it won't be enough to reassure the center, and the Republican rank-and-file will soon be back where we want them -- at each other's throats (sample comment thread here).

The right wing in this country is saddled with a large extremist fringe which is dogmatic, paranoid, ideologically purist, and further subdivided into several factions (teabaggers, Paultards, theocrats, etc.).  This makes the right as a whole vulnerable to fragmentation and destructive infighting.  We'd be wise to do everything we can to attack that weakness.


Blogger Andrew Hall said...

It was a way for Obama to show Latinos that he hasn't completely forgotten about them. I've read two articles recently (in the Economist and Fareed Zachara"s (right spelling?) piece in Time magazine) on how America is keeping out educated, talented foreigners who want to work here. Many have to go to Canada after graduating from american schools with advanced science degrees.

16 June, 2012 09:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It was a way for Obama to show Latinos that he hasn't completely forgotten about them.

More or less my point -- it's not to win over opponents but to energize a constituency which often has a low turn-out rate, making them more likely to vote.

I've read two articles recently (in the Economist and Fareed Zachara"s (right spelling?) piece in Time magazine) on how America is keeping out educated, talented foreigners who want to work here.

That is a problem, though it's a problem of legal immigration, completely separate from the illegal-alien issue. Immigrants have played a huge role in building the country. If we lose our ability to attract the most capable people it will be disastrous.

16 June, 2012 09:56  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Good move on Obama's part. This is compassionate liberalism. It jusst makes human sense.

I wish more had been done by this administration on the immigration issues.

But this is something rather than nothing.

Let's see how Romoney etch-a-sketches it.

16 June, 2012 15:35  
Blogger B.R. said...

It's nice to know that somebody else out there opposes illegal immigration without racial bias. While I haven't been pelted with cries of "racist!", that's probably only because I haven't done any posts related to it. As usual, keep up the good work, Infidel.


16 June, 2012 15:52  
Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

I haven't been able to get an accurate read on Latino voters. I can see how they appeal to the Democratic ideals regarding labor rights and that genre' On the other hand this block appears strongly religious and perhaps predominantly anti-abortion. Donno.

16 June, 2012 16:23  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

SK: Actually, Obama has done something -- raids on employers of illegal aliens, and deportations, have been higher under his administration than under any previous one. It's part of what gives him the credibility to advance an initiative like this.

BR: Of course some opponents of illegal immigration are at least partly motivated by racism, but by no means all. Blanket accusations of racism are a way to avoid addressing the real issues.

RtS: One of the reasons I've long opposed illegal immigration is that Latin Amrican culture is, to put it bluntly, less advanced than ours -- more religious, more anti-gay and anti-abortion, more male-dominated -- and those are influences we don't need any more of in this country (I'm against most immigration from the Islamic world for the same reasons). This has lately become less of a concern for me given how rapidly Latin America is progressing -- Argentina and Mexico now even have gay marriage, which most of the US doesn't yet. But we do need to insist on immigrants assimilating. Europe has had tremendous problems because it took them so long to realize that.

Hispanics in the US will remain a strongly Democratic-leaning voting bloc as long as Republicans continue to seem so hostile toward them (and yes, in their case a lot of that is racism). The task at hand is encouraging higher turn-out.

16 June, 2012 18:25  
Blogger LadyAtheist said...

I never understand how the (religious) right can scream about innocent fetuses but then turn around and want to yank the rug out from under the children of the poor or deport children who may not even speak their "native" language. Or even if they speak it they can't usually write it so they'd have a hard time in school in their "home" country.

Obama needs to use the phrase "innocent children" when he discusses this policy. Claiming it's because they will add to our economic strength makes it seem more cynical and less of a moral matter. Why is he afraid to frame things in moral terms?

16 June, 2012 20:10  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

LA: The anri-abortion mania is all about controlling women and punishing sex (and enforcing religious taboos). Fetuses are just a pretext. Once you understand that, the psychology makes much more sense. They've never cared much about American (real) children in poverty, never mind about illegal aliens.

17 June, 2012 02:10  

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