They want walls, not re­form

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

The crazed, blaz­ing rhetoric gets con­fus­ing. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama has done too lit­tle about the econ­omy. Obama has done too much. Two op­pos­ing cri­tiques, same set of mouths.

As in: Obama is pro-big govern­ment and an­tibusi­ness. Oh, but of course, he’s in the pocket of big busi­ness. (You know — BP.)

As in: Obama has done noth­ing about border se­cu­rity. Oh, and the gall of that guy send­ing Na­tional Guard troops to the border…

I re­al­ize some peo­ple fault our pres­i­dent for be­ing a lit­tle de­tached and clin­i­cal. But ad­mit it: Some­times he ap­pears to be the only sane one in the room.

This seems most acute­when the sub­ject is im­mi­gra­tion, with at least five states talk­ing about adopt­ing Ari­zona-style crack­downs.

Obama is as­sailed for pre­par­ing a court chal­lenge to the Ari­zona law. Aside from be­ing the right thing to do against some­thing that guar­an­tees racial pro­fil­ing (at is­sue: not the rights of non-Amer­i­cans but of brown-skinned Amer­i­cans), it’s also some­thing you’d ex­pect the ex­ec­u­tive branch to do.

If it hap­pened dur­ing the Bush ad­min­is­tra­tion, the lat­ter would have chal­lenged it in court. Think not? Just when did you ever see theBush ad­min­is­tra­tion cede ex­ec­u­tive-branch power?

An­other rea­son one could be cer­tain thereof is that Bush didn’t do dem­a­goguery on im­mi­gra­tion. For one, he ap­pre­ci­ated the cross-border and in­ter­ra­cial re­al­i­ties in his home state. For an­other, he knewwhat the la­bor in ques­tion labormeant to the econ­omy, par­tic­u­larly in the land of cot­ton, cab­bage and pinto beans.

What­ever the case­when com­par­ing two pres­i­dents on on is­sue, here are some use­ful facts to share­with some­onewho says this pres­i­dent has done squat about il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

The Border Pa­trol has 20,000 agents, twice what it had in 2004.

Obama has re­quested $500mil­lion in emer­gency border se­cu­rity funds, in part to add 1,000 border agents and in part to op­er­ate two more aerial drones.

An Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion ini­tia­tive with Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties has re­sulted in 2,266 dru­gring ar­rests over the past 22 months.

If the threat of drug run­ners re­mains high, here’s a fig­ure that could be at­trib­uted to the work of both ad­min­is­tra­tions on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion in gen­eral:

For the third straight year, last year border ar­rests de­clined. No, it’s not be­cause border guards were twid­dling their thumbs. It’s be­cause border traf­fic haswaned, partly be­cause of the U.S. econ­omy. Or so re­ports The Wall Street Jour­nal.

Oh, but aren’t il­le­gal aliens pour­ing in at un­prece­dented lev­els? And isn’t that whyAri­zona had to do some­thing now, some­thing dra­matic? No. And no.

In bad eco­nomic times, Ari­zona’s ini­tia­tive was driven by hard-right, an­gry-white pol­i­tics. WhenGov. Jan Brewer en­acted the law, she es­sen­tially had two choices: 1) Sign it; or 2) sign her po­lit­i­cal death no­tice. Why? A Repub­li­can pri­mary is com­ing up.

Brewer, gen­er­ally a cen­trist, was dead po­lit­i­cally if she pro­jected the slight­est lack of zest for this raw-meat of­fer­ing.

So, back to san­ity, and Obama’s quest for com­pre­hen­sive im­mi­gra­tion re­form. The op­po­si­tion is, uh, op­posed. Why? For one, said fac­tion re­fuses to ac­knowl­edge the hu­man­i­tar­ian and util­i­tar­ian as­pects of a shad­ow­pop­u­la­tion both peace­able and pro­duc­tive.

Com­pre­hen­sive re­form­would dowhat is right and rea­son­able. It would le­gal­ize as many of these peo­ple as pos­si­ble, and in­volve­more flex­i­bil­ity in grant­ing tem­po­rary work per­mits.

We need it, but po­lit­i­cal dem­a­gogues need the “il­le­gals” more, need the anger, need the fear.

In a nation that owes its unique na­ture to many na­tions and many tongues, the only lan­guage that speaks to the peo­ple ablaze this sum­mer is that of the wall.

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