Obama is Using Latinos As Pawns in His Game of Political Chess
We need a permanent immigration solution, but Obama's policy has too many unknowns
June 19, 2012
President Obama surprised the political world with the rollout of his mini-DREAM Act. It had become another Etch A Sketch moment for the president, mostly because he had vigorously defended his inability to enact any similar executive orders due to constitutional constraints. The political chess move would render two objectives: getting those "Dreamers" protesting outside his campaign offices into the office as supporters, and also giving him a shield for his meeting this coming Thursday with Latino political powerhouse NALEO, where he had promised four years ago that he would enact comprehensive immigration reform. He could not just have walked into that convention empty handed.
I agree that the Dreamers deserve access to a permanent immigration status solution, a solution where the law enhances the strength of our country with the legalization of their immigration status. Then the work status for the Dreamers would be permanent. I don't believe the president had the legal right to give the work permits; I defer to the legal scholars and the judicial system to determine the constitutionality of these actions.
Politically, by allowing this new bloc of residents to enter the workforce, there will unintended consequences. There will be heavier burdens for the states and higher competition for jobs. Already we are seeing members of the African-American community demonstrating their dissatisfaction for this new policy. But also it will not be a rosy road for the Dreamers: They will be prone to fraud and intimidation by fake lawyers and those who will seek to profit from the new policy. It will take months before we understand how this is all going to look once it is working. By that time the election will be over and it could all be reversed by another executive order or judicial review.
The Dreamers have been invited to participate in the political process; unfortunately, once again they will be relegated to political pawns in the chess game of presidential campaigns. When President Obama visits Orlando to meet with NALEO, he will have a shiny object to display. It will not be a promise kept that would have addressed the issue of 11.5 million undocumented residents, just a crack in the door for a few Dreamers to squeak in. I hope NALEO has the fortitude to shed its pawn status and call out President Obama for choosing to ignore the Latino community until he needed them again for his re-election campaign. That would be a proud Latino moment.