Friday, November 21, 2014

From 11 to 6, rather than 11 to zero. Or, what truly constitutes Amnesty?

President Barack Obama gave his quarter-hour-long address to the nation Thursday night, outlining his intent to revise federal immigration policy despite the desire of Republicans in Congress to do nothing on the issue.

It turned out to be a little more precise than I originally would have anticipated. But I wasn’t that far off in expecting that the Obama proposal he wants to implement with his executive order authority would not be all-reaching.

BY SOME ESTIMATES, about 5 million people will be impacted – out of the estimated 11 million people who now live in the United States without citizenship or a valid visa. You could make the argument that there are still way too many people who will be living in the shadows of our society.

Although to the ideologues who are determined to believe this is impeachable behavior on the part of the president, it will be regarded as too few.

Obama’s policy basically tries to say that people without citizenship who come to the attention of authorities because they are committing criminal offenses would still wind up facing deportation from the United States.

He even wants criminal background checks on people applying for the right to live openly in the United States without risking being deported – so as to show that these really are people who are not misbehaving in this country. Despite the ideologue belief that the undocumented are “criminal” by their very existence north of the Rio Bravo del Norte/Rio Grande.

THERE ALSO ARE the provisions Obama would call for that would permit parents of children who are in the nation legitimately to remain. No more of the splitting up of families – which is the big reason institutions like the Catholic Church come out in favor of immigration reform.

Personally, I thought Obama threw in quite a bit of law-and-order type rhetoric and references to the “rule of law” to try to appeal to the ideologues who want to claim that people here without a visa are being disrespectful to U.S. law.

Even though one can argue legitimately that the bureaucratic mess and contradictions that exist in immigration policy now are the reason many find it next to impossible to get the visa.

Not that I expect anyone who is ideologue-inspired to take any of this talk seriously.

THESE ARE PEOPLE who are inclined to be hostile to the president on this issue regardless of what he says. The people who now are going to be talking about government shutdowns, presidential impeachment or any other hostile actions would have been doing so regardless of what Obama said Thursday night.

I did find it interesting to hear Obama use the “amnesty” word by claiming that current immigration policy is the real amnesty because of its inconsistency. I’m sure that alone will manage to offend the ideologues amongst us.

As does the fact that Obama said the desires of social conservatives on immigration issues goes “contrary to” the ideals that our nation allegedly stands for.

Telling the so-called “real Americans” (at least they’re foolish enough to believe they are) that they’re being “un-American” is something that surely will draw blood – so to speak.

AS FOR THE notion that Obama doesn’t have any authority to behave in the way he’s doing on this issue, I’ll be the first to admit that it would be preferable to have Congress pass some sort of plan that then got presidential approval.

At the very least, it would be lasting. Unlike this immigration proposal that could easily be revoked by the whim of a future president. Unlike the idea of health care reform, which is something we’re going to have for some time regardless of how much the ideologues rant about its evils and try to abolish it.

I don’t expect they’ll do so, but if Republicans were serious about the issue instead of trying to demonize all immigrants as “dirty Mexicans” ("¡Besame culo!" is my response to them), their response would be to come up with an alternate immigration reform plan that would supersede any Obama executive order.

But they won’t. We’re going to get as-yet unstated punitive actions against Obama by the new GOP-dominated Congress. And the American people (not just the undocumented amongst us) will be the ones who suffer from the inactivity to occur.


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