As you might expect, President Obama wants to have it both ways. He says he supports helping those Americans who are working to stem the tide of illegal immigration and are defending our borders while also declaring that we must show compassion for those who have appeared at our borders from other countries. However, some of what the president has said and done — and, in some cases, has not done — raises the question of whose side the president is really on.
First, The Post reported that “top officials at the White House and the State Department had been warned repeatedly of the potential for a further explosion in the number of migrant children since the crisis began escalating two years ago.” In other words, the president and his staff knew the influx of illegal immigrants was coming and did nothing to get in front of the problem.
Next, Obama continues to refuse to go to the border to get a clear personal picture of what is actually happening on the front lines. He also hasn’t had any meaningful engagement with those who are working on the border crisis. It is fair to assume he doesn’t want to go to the border since this would no doubt encourage picture-taking of the bedlam his inviting overtures and inaction have created. Those pictures could add to the sense of outrage and urgency that the president does not want to acknowledge.
The president is notorious for staying in campaign mode and, so far, nothing seems to be able to penetrate his focus on the midterm elections. Nothing suggests the president wants to own, control or take charge of securing our border. He only met with Texas Gov. Rick Perry when he was shamed into doing so and he is not relaying any tough messages or talking about potential penalties for the countries that are exporting their citizens to the United States. Even the $3.7 billion he wants Congress to appropriate for the crisis is mostly geared toward accommodating the inflow of illegal immigrants, not stopping it. And that request has not been accompanied by any serious effort to lobby for its passage.
With all this, it is fair to ask: Whose side is the president really on? Does he support the beleaguered U.S. law enforcement officials who are trying to guard our border? Does he empathize with the American communities who are forced to deal with the influx of those who are willfully breaking the law?
It is revealing that after meeting in early July with immigration activists who oppose any efforts to return the illegal immigrants to their home country, the president went so far as to reassure the group that, “in another life, I’d be on the other side of the table.” It is not hard to believe the president has a bias on the side of the foreigners. It isn’t a leap or unfair to believe that emotionally and ideologically, the president’s sympathies are with the goals of the immigration activists — but since, as president, he has this bothersome responsibility of enforcing U.S. laws and protecting the U.S. border, he must, for the time being, avoid formally joining their ranks. It is not hard to see that a combination of liberal ideology and partisan politics makes the president less than enthusiastic about supporting the Americans in Texas (a state that did not support candidate Obama and does not support many other Democrats) who are trying to protect their border and the communities that are not in a position to take in all comers.
At a philosophical level, the president probably wants to welcome into the United States pretty much anyone who shows up at the border claiming a need or a grievance. And at a partisan political level, I’m sure he and other Democrats know that when illegal immigrants are allowed to easily become citizens, they are thankful to the accommodating Democrats and thereby dilute the less accommodating Republicans’ voting strength wherever they end up living. Allowing illegal immigration is a good way to import Democratic voters. And it is no secret that the president faces pressure from Democratic leaders and organizations that are against doing anything that inhibits illegal immigration.
However, this usual calculation may not be completely applicable in the 2014 elections. A recent poll from the Pew Research Center shows that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama “is handling the surge of children from Central America” who have entered the country illegally. No Democratic candidate in a competitive race can excuse the president for not visiting the border, nor can they claim he is handling the matter in a way that they support, admire or even would argue is effective.
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