Our View: ‘Us’ vs. ‘them’
Posted: January 31, 2013
As scheduled, President Obama waded into the rhetorical fray on Tuesday — this time on immigration “reform” — and, as usual, added little to the nitty-gritty of political conversation. That is, unless you’re a fan of continuing outright demagoguery.
The president round-tripped more than nine hours to Las Vegas to speak in an immigrant setting — what, there were no such backdrops in Washington? — and said, if not nothing, then very, very little. He did score a point or two by saying this nation ought to “staple a green card” to the diplomas of foreign-born engineers, mathematicians, and scientists newly minted by U.S. universities. But mostly his speech was notable for what it didn’t say — nothing about security at the border, and nothing about a market-driven guest-worker program (that his union buddies abhor).
And then there was this gem, actually uttered: “I promise you this: The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become . . . When we talk about (the issue) in the abstract, it’s easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of ‘us’ versus ‘them.’”
The distinct whiff of demagoguery, wouldn’t you say? And was it really necessary — as if satisfying the demagogic impulse ever is — especially when members from both parties genuinely seem interested, for once, about working together.
But this non-speech may have contained a silver lining, after all — that Mr. Obama, as is his wont, will leave the heavy legislative lifting to the lawmakers. The question, though, is whether he’ll try to gum up the works near the end.
More than five years ago, in 2007, we came out strongly against an immigration reform plan brokered by Sens. John McCain and Ted Kennedy. Why, then, are we receptive now to at least hearing what a new proposal, still in its embryonic stages, might hold?
Perhaps the presence of authentic conservatives — e.g., Sens. Marco Rubio and Jeff Flake — as advocates has something to do with it. Or it could be the fact that what we have right now, as Mr. Rubio says, amounts to “de facto amnesty.” There’s simply got to be a better way. Still, conservatives must resolve not to get “rolled” on this critical issue. Hence, these conditions:
No pigs-in-a-poke, not as in ’86 when amnesty was granted, but no enforcement mechanisms were implemented.
Operational control of the border must be secured before any illegal immigrant can apply for a green card.
A robust E-verify system must be in place. Likewise, a market-driven guest-worker program.
The road to legal immigration must be made less bureaucratic, easier to navigate.
Any new approach must have a strong assimilation component. Conservatives see immigrants as future Americans, not as voting blocs — as liberals do.