Is 2006 really that long ago? Have we forgotten everything we learned? Do we no longer remember the McCain-Kennedy immigration legislation?
President Obama seems to have forgotten that America already rose up en masse once within the last decade to thwart the misguided attempts of the federal government to provide what was tantamount to amnesty for illegal aliens while paying only lip service to the issue of border security.
In fairness to the president, he did say that the failure to act in a meaningful way on the federal level with respect to the issue of illegal immigration was at the heart of the issue, but characterizing Arizona’s law as “misguided” and promising to sic the Justice Department on Arizona does not seem at first glance to encourage Arizonans, or Americans in general, to believe that Obama is serious about solving the illegal immigration problem.
It seems instead that the President is interested in currying political favor with a rapidly growing demographic that is critical to the future success of the Democrat Party, but he would do well to keep in mind that the Latino community is not monolithic, and that many in the Latino community are against anything that smacks of amnesty and join their fellow Americans in an increasing fear of the brutal drug-related violence at our Southern border.
To wit, 30% of the population of the state of Arizona claims Hispanic heritage while only 58% of the population is white, and yet 70% of Arizonans approve of the new, strict immigration law SB 1070, which was signed into law by Governor Brewer on Friday.
Enter the aforementioned John McCain. In a news conference in Phoenix on Friday McCain, facing a challenge to his reelection bid on the Right from J.D. Hayworth, seemed to demonstrate that he truly did learn the lesson of his unpopular 2006 legislation. He used the controversial issue as a chance to show himself strong on border security and simultaneously show his opposition to a President who is sliding precipitously in the polls when he said,
“If the president doesn’t like what the Arizona Legislature and governor may be doing, then I call on the president to immediately call for the dispatch of 3,000 National Guard troops to our border and mandate that 3,000 additional Border Patrol [officers] be sent to our border as well,”
Both McCain and Arizona have had their hands forced in this immigration debate by an ever escalating problem coupled with a clueless and ineffectual federal government. Americans soundly rejected the 2006 legislation even in an economy that was much stronger than today’s. One can only imagine the populist uprising against any kind of amnesty in an economy where some 20% of the workforce is either unemployed or underemployed.
2006 may seem like a long time ago, but the things that have changed since then make immigration reform without completely securing the border less likely, not more likely. Once again Obama is about to address a contentious issue that could strike discord and divisiveness into the American electorate on a level that will make the fight over health care reform look like one of the 60s love-ins frequented by so many of his mentors.
Obama would do well to actually consider listening to the American people first this time around.