June 17, 2012 Obama on immigration: good politics?
Since I haven’t thought all that deeply about immigration policy, I’m not going to express an opinion about whether President Obama’s executive order liberalizing immigration policy for some people is good policy. (If you want to know more about what he did, click the link).
But I very much doubt that it is as good a political move as the Administration thinks. The political logic (and I assume there is some since they did it now instead of waiting until after the election) is: this helps with the Hispanic vote.
But the major beneficiaries of this shift are illegal immigrants “younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military.”
Since illegal immigrants (hopefully) do not vote in federal actions, the primary beneficiaries of this shift cannot vote for Obama. Neither can their parents (since presumably the only reason these people are “illegal” is that their parents came here illegally when they were children).
So does the Administration think millions of voters of Mexican/Central American/South American descent are going to say to themselves “Well, I was planning to stay home in November, or maybe even vote for Romney because of the lousy economy, but because President Obama won’t deport some people who came from the same country as me, I am going to rush out to the polls and vote for him!” Really? I can’t disprove the idea but it instinctively seems hard to believe.
By contrast, my experiences living in Red America have shown me that if there is one thing that makes not just the right-wing street, but even the swing-voter old-folks Anglo street, furious, it is illegal immigration. So it seems to me that the rational politician should always want to be perceived as a nativist. Am I missing something here?