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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Obama’s Immigration Reform Rooted in Decency

The headline of Harold Meyerson’s Washington Post column hits a core issue of the immigration debate: “Obama calculates the human cost of deportations.” Written before the President issued his executive order, Meyerson nonetheless captured the central issue, the one few Republicans are willing to address:

Of the thousands of words written lately on President Obama’s impending order to exempt some undocumented immigrants from the threat of deportation, most have dealt with the politics of the issue, not the humanity behind it. What the media have largely failed to emphasize is that Obama’s order will be shaped almost entirely by the imperative of keeping parents with their children. The administration is planning to allow the undocumented parents of children born here (and who are, thus, U.S. citizens) to stay and receive work permits. Unfortunately, this will not include parents of the “dreamers” who are already protected by executive order from deportation.
…It’s not as if Obama hasn’t waited for Congress to address the immigration conundrum. Nearly 18 months ago, a bipartisan majority of 68 senators passed an Obama-backed bill that would have significantly augmented our border security forces and provided a long and tortuous pathway to legalization for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants. The Republican-controlled House refused to take up the bill, however, though it likely would have passed. Speaker John Boehner and other GOP leaders declined to risk the ire of the nativists in their ranks.

Meyerson adds that Republicans are likely to hold a House majority until 2023, and immigrant families would have little hope of congressional action to help them keep their families together. He credits President Obama with making a humane decision, “beyond the political and legal calculations are those that are simply human…even democracies can, and not infrequently do, violate the most elemental human rights. Stripping children of their parents is such a violation. It’s time — past time — to stop the stupidity, the lack of humanity.”
Any person with a decent mind and heart ought to be able to see that immigrants are making a tremendous contribution to contemporary American life. Making it possible for them to keep their families together isn’t asking a lot. The President did the humane thing in moving immigration reform in that direction.

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