Today, Obama addressed a crowd in El Paso, TX, to discuss the immigration issue. A more cynical analysis, and perhaps more accurate analysis would read the speech as a step forward in the campaign for 2012. He let border hawks know that a secure priority was his #1 concern, but he also let Latino’s know that he still is committed to the DREAM act. Here is is Obama’s 8-point immigration reform plan:
- Secure borders.
- Hold businesses accountable for hiring undocumented people.
- Those who are undocumented broke the law, so they must pay taxes, pay their fines, and learn English.
- Fix the system of legal immigration, allow the best and the brightest to stay here.
- Figure out ways for farms to hire workers.
- A path to legal status for those that are here.
- Re-uniting families torn apart by deportation.
- Stop punishing young people for the actions of their parents, a.k.a. passing the dream act.
Looking on the bright side, the speech is a start and a window of opportunity for advocates and activists to increase national attention on and push for reform. Furthermore, after declaring that “we’ve gone above and beyond what Republicans requested” on border security and enforcement, the President implied that the ball is now in the Republican’s court to make some compromises.
Troubling, however, were his use of language that equates undocumented individuals with criminals; his claim that border security efforts were associated with decreased crime rates in El Paso and other border towns; his assurance that deportation efforts (e.g. SComm) were “deporting criminals not just families” (See blog post 5-8-11); and his trumpeting of border security efforts.
Certainly, the he was attempting to speak to both sides of the political spectrum, yet by associating undocumented immigrants and criminals and asserting that border patrols, a fence and a 60% increase in weapons on the border constitutes good immigration policy President Obama reinforces misconceptions that will only make the uphill immigration reform battle a steeper climb.