The President gave a speech this afternoon where he expressed the need to fix America’s broken immigration system.
He had a lot of good things to say about immigration. For instance, the President emphasized the positive effects of immigration, stating, “It doesn’t matter where you came from; what matters is that you believe in the ideals on which we were founded; that you believe all of us are equal and deserve the freedom to pursue happiness.” True. No disagreement here.
He also emphasized that reforms in legal immigration “will also help make America more competitive in the global economy.” Again, Mr. President, kudos for supporting reforms in a poorly run legal immigration system.
He made valid points about the border—including investments in manpower, fencing, and technologies that are making the border more secure.
The conclusion of his speech, however, was incredibly predictable yet disappointing nonetheless. The President again proposed an amnesty for the 11 million illegal immigrants inside the United States, something he has done twice a year since he was elected. We tried the amnesty route in 1986, and not only did it not work, but it made the problem worse.
But let’s follow the White House and forget history for a moment. An amnesty would cost taxpayers millions, if not billions of dollars—at a time where debt is at its ceiling and budgets are busted. It would also reward those who broke the law and came to the U.S. illegally over those who came to the U.S. the legal way.
Neither of those two side effects would accomplish President Obama’s stated goals of improving the economy through immigration or recruiting the best and brightest to come to the U.S. legally.
It is unfortunate. The President had a real opportunity to push forth a plan that would respect the rule of law, promote the economy and national security, and actually solve the illegal immigration problem so that future generations aren’t forced to make these decisions all over again. But he didn’t—instead he emphasized the need to “put politics aside” while ridiculing rule of law advocates and then used tired talking points to placate the pro-amnesty crowd. He even mentioned passage of the DREAM Act—the mini-amnesty legislation that hasn’t passed despite plenty of opportunities. Most see it for what it is: an amnesty dressed in nice clothing.
The right solution is a plan that shows a real commitment to border security, robust workplace and immigration enforcement, a temporary worker program, and visa reforms to get employers the employees they need.
Obama’s speech had a lot of colorful language—but his conclusion wasn’t pretty.