Talk about bad timing. Thousands of immigration “reform” activists gathered on the Washington mall on the very day that health care reform legislation faced a final vote. If you blinked, you may have missed any reporting of this event altogether. The issue has been pushed so far out of Americans’ consciousness that, only hours after this rally took place, I actually had to do a search on Reuters in order to find an article. (See above link.) It had already been pushed aside, not just by health care, but by squabbles over aid for Greece, corporate mergers, Tiger Woods and other trivia.
The problems faced by advocates of immigration “reform” (a euphemism for amnesty for illegals) are the same that they faced when George Bush tackled the issue. First of all, the vast majority of Americans oppose amnesty. The vast majority see illegal immigration as a drain on our social safety net resources. And the vast majority favor putting a halt to illegal immigration and deporting illegal immigrants.
George Bush quickly found that any attempt to placate the Hispanic voting bloc with amnesty legislation had absolutely zero chance of success without first assuring legislators that border security and the problem of illegal immigrants stealing jobs from Americans had been addressed. So, to their chagrin, reform activists soon found that their efforts had back-fired when Bush implemented a border crack-down, reinforcing the border patrol with National Guardsmen and building more fence, while simultaneously ratcheting up workplace enforcement with big, high-profile raids that netted thousands of illegal workers.
Regardless of whether you agree with Obama’s positions, you can’t argue that he isn’t willing – even anxious – to tackle monumental issues. Immigration reform isn’t one of them. Being so far down on the priority list, behind the economy, global warming, energy policy and two major wars, its likelihood of ever being tackled by this administration is remote. The president virtually said as much in his State of the Union address in January.
But, if it does come up, Obama will face the same problem that Bush encountered, and may very well respond in the same way – by concluding that the path forward first requires a crack-down on illegal immigration. Until the day arrives when the issue of immigration is seen in the bigger context of the need to stabilize our population, this may be the best that those of us opposed to blindly throwing fuel on the fire of the consequences of overpopulation can hope for.