Common is the cry in border states — and others, such as Alabama — that if the federal government did a better job securing the borders and managing immigration procedures, states wouldn’t have to pass their own stringent immigration policies.
That’s only half-true, of course. The correct part isn’t debatable: The federal government hasn’t upheld its part of the bargain and taken control of this issue. Weak or ineffective immigration policies during the economic boom times of the last 20 years — when workers flocked to the United States for work — didn’t keep up. Today, the same arguments exist over paths to citizenship, verifying workers’ statuses and border security.
But that says nothing about the xenophobic immigration laws passed by Alabama, Arizona and other states in recent years. In our state’s case, there is no justification for dehumanizing a race of people.
The point: President Obama didn’t fulfill his promise of securing sweeping immigration-reform policies during his first term. Now in his second, Obama is beginning a new campaign to urge legislators — particularly Republicans — to find a bipartisan compromise that (a.) isn’t watered down and (b.) is effective.
It’s a lot to ask.
Nevertheless, Obama is wise to go on this offensive. The need, as always, is great.
An Associated Press report this week points out that the president is working behind the scenes in order to keep Republicans at the negotiating table between now and Congress’ April 8 return from spring break. The key is the Senate working group, the Gang of Eight, that is putting together a bipartisan plan the White House has yet to see. “We’ll reserve judgment on the product of those discussions until it’s produced,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Here is where we’d like to see the professorial Obama take an aggressive stance and will Congress to pass the immigration reform this nation needs. Unfortunately, even in his second term Obama is facing overwhelming Republican opposition on virtually all matters of policy. His is a precarious perch: push too hard and risk a Republican storm; push meekly and risk ineffectiveness.
Either way, immigration reform must happen during Obama’s second term. Failure is bad for the president, bad for Congress and bad for the United States.