President Barack Obama wanted to try out another experiment in unilateral government, was persuaded it would hurt Democrats in the coming election, and backed up. The trick he had in mind — finding ways to make some illegal immigrants legal without the approval of Congress — now won’t happen until after November. Then, however, we just might get a storm for which no shelters are yet constructed.
Obama’s decision must have been a hard one because, while there were Hispanic votes to be had by his speedily declaring some form of amnesty, there were other votes to be lost. Apparently making up his mind after hearing from some concerned senatorial candidates, he said the delay would give him more time to better inform skeptical citizens about all the benefits to come. Is it possible, conceivable, a matter of rationally reputable conjecture, that Obama is the one who could do with an improved understanding of what’s at stake?
Someone might tell him that amnesties for illegal immigrants attract more illegal immigrants who are mostly unskilled and struggle painfully to navigate this culture, tending to land in poverty from which escape is difficult. It is better for them, overburdened institutions and the economy to stop the illegal flow. Prior to any legalization, then, we need a national ID system and improved border security. We also need legal immigration reforms whereby we decrease (but do not stop) admissions of the unskilled while cheering the arrival of more educated and entrepreneurially minded immigrants. They mostly thrive here.
To get to such step-by-step, carefully conceived, appropriately cautious, finally effective reform, it would be good for the president to engage diverse points of view in Congress. He sadly made cooperation more problematic by employing a constitutionally dubious, backhanded slap at Congress with a 2012 election-year executive order affording a temporary reprieve to young illegal immigrants. The move was likely a factor in attracting tens of thousands of Central American teens and children to our southern border and somehow failed to soothe GOP anxieties.
Blaming Washington stalemate on those horrid House Republicans, some liberals excuse Obama’s multiple executive orders threatening rule of law because that gets things done that they want done. It’s a monarchical-style extremism that makes supposed extremists on the right look like purring pussycats, especially when you consider some interesting facts and figures provided by Deroy Murdock in a National Review Online article. He shows the House actually addresses big issues. It is the Senate that mostly sits on its hands.
As of early August, the House had passed 511 bills addressing a host of important issues since the 113th Congress began in January 2013, he wrote. The Senate had passed 232. Of bills signed into law by Obama, 108 originated in the House, 37 in the Senate. The House has acceded to some of Obama’s major requests, and 178 of its bills had no opposition from Democratic representatives, 55 were introduced by Democrats and 98 percent had some Democratic backing, Murdock reports.
While 68 Senate bills await House action, 347 House bills await Senate action that could include amendments to be addressed by a conference committee prior to a revote in both chambers. As Murdock points out, the Senate failure to address its responsibilities — it has even neglected to vote as legally required on a number of budget resolutions — appears to be a matter of Democrats not wanting to go on the record with votes costing them support at home.
The Obama answer to inaction on what’s important should be open-minded negotiation with both Senate and House, employing whatever team members have those abilities, not constant fundraiser divisiveness and definitely not autocratic practices that scoot aside the consent of the governed. As hard as he has already made it, compromise on reasonable immigration bills could yet be achieved.