Saturday, June 23, 2012

Statement on Obama's Executive Orders on Immigration

I was recently asked by Joanna Dodder of the Prescott Daily Courier to make a statement regarding Obama's directive that immigration enforcement should not make long established residents who were brought here as children high priority targets when it comes to enforcement and deportation.

I think it is a great step forward, not far enough, but at least forward. That's the short version. Here is my official position:

Well, as has been demonstrated repeatedly during the course of the presidency, executive power is various and mighty, look at the assorted uses Obama's predecessor, Mr. Bush, exercised. Consider his unchecked assault on and abrogation of the Legislature's authority through signing statements. I feel I need to start there to derail the strident calls of imperial presidency that have kicked up. As the liberals warned at the time, Bush's redefinition of executive power set precedent for all future presidents to more fully exert their will. Obama's actions are totally in line with Bush's actions and actually executive orders regarding immigration occurred during Bush's watch and Reagan's, famously, which led to major changes in direction on the issue. Remember GOP idol Reagan instituted a major immigrant amnesty program as a compassionate, practical approach to a seismically large issue. So his actions are hardly the outrage the Right aims to claim.

That said, I hold that existing immigration law is in grievous error and results in untold misery for countless undocumented economic refugees. I call for a program to accelerate the naturalization of all immigrants already in the US and a streamlining of the immigration process to aid new refugees through the immigration process at existing established border checkpoints to eliminate alien trafficking entirely. As i wrote in 2007, if you want to end illegal immigration, make immigration legal.

Like the Affordable Health Care Act was a great step forward, though not my ultimate goal of universal health care, Obama's recent immigration actions make good sense as a stop gap measure. The agency is swamped as it is and this causes thousands of deportees to face extended stays in private prisons which increase their misery and extend our national expense on a wrong-headed policy. People who are already well established in our society and by and large contributing members of our American culture should not be a priority for arrest and detention when it comes to immigration enforcement. Of course not.

As with other forms of law enforcement, the focus should be the criminal enterprises that exploit the undocumented economic refugees in the first place and aid American businesses in perpetuating the exploitation of a secret underclass of borderline slave labor. So, yeah, go Obama, go Obama. If it is a political ploy, then it's a good one and small step toward creating a more humane attitude regarding the lives of immigrants. In a nation of immigrants that has transformed the world's tired and poor huddled masses into a mighty people, it is our duty to make sure all Americans and would Americans have the right to breathe free.

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