Immigration and the confusion of the Right

Obama recently talked about immigration reform:

A friend of mine has written an interesting post (funny and not serious) on immigration. His political ideology is clearly to the right of center. He is a businessman who has done well and unfortunately has bought into a lot of the rhetoric of the Right. He and many others in the conservative movement have charged that Obama has no intention of protecting Arizona and other states from economic refugees. (This is the term that I use for illegal immigrants because it more precisely defines why they’re here and why they’ve been allowed to stay here). The attack on the Obama administration has come from a two-pronged approach — First, the president has failed to protect the country from a growing threat. Secondly, he does not listen to us, the American people, who have cried out to have something done.

Let’s take the second allegation first. My friend has followed the lead of other conservatives and has looked at polls. Polls? Conservatives are suggesting that the president should not lead, but instead should follow American public opinion. I love this myopic view of American political life. It was less than four years ago when these same conservatives were telling us that we needed to follow Bush and not look at the polls. As a matter fact, just before the invasion of Iraq, a country that did not attack us was never a threat to us, Americans favored continued weapons inspections by a vast majority over a military invasion. It was okay for President Bush to ignore the polls, but Barack Obama must follow them.

What threat? (Like an Al Qaeda threat or a Soviet Union take over the world kind of threat?) Economic refugees have been allowed to pour into our country because it’s beneficial to business. Both Democrats and Republicans have had opportunities to stem the tide but they have failed. Why? It isn’t like these economic refugees are a solid voting block for Republicans or Democrats — they can’t vote! Therefore, they have no political power. The businesses that hire them — they have the political power. Whether it is agriculture, construction or the restaurant industry, a large segment of our economy depends on cheap labor. Cheap labor is like crack to business. They simply cannot get enough of it. If they can’t find enough cheap labor here in the United States, they will move manufacturing to Mexico, Thailand or China. We have seen this. We all know this to be true yet, for some reason, conservatives are bashing Obama for something that was already in place before he took office.

Of course, this brings me to President George W. Bush. He was in office for eight years. Where were the calls for his impeachment over his immigration policy? (He didn’t develop one until he was in office for over seven years.) During the go-go years of the housing bubble, millions of immigrants poured into this country and most conservatives said nothing. Why? Immigration was a problem then and it’s a problem now.

Conservatives want it both ways. They want the federal government to spend money on things that they want money spent on and they still want to shrink the size of government. The Obama administration has deported more economic refugees in this first year than any other administration in history. The Obama administration has set aside over $400 million to strengthen border security and hire more border agents. Conservatives whine about Barack Obama being weak but when he stands up and says the Constitution has given border security to the federal government, conservatives whine about states’ rights. Which is it? Defend the constitution or not?

Fixing the problem with immigration is easy. For the most part, economic refugees come here to get jobs. Clamp down and increase fines on businesses that hire economic refugees. Continue to enforce the current laws. If economic refugees cannot get jobs, they will not come here. This is extremely simple and it will work, but there is no political will on Capitol Hill to do this. The business lobby is too strong. If Congress begins to listen to the people instead of the lobbyists and comprehensive, meaningful immigration reform is passed, we will have one less hurdle in order to completely fix this problem. This last hurdle is clearly the toughest. What do you do with economic refugees who are already here in the United States? To me, the answer does not matter. We just have to come up with an answer. No matter what the answer is someone is going to be furious.

The problem is that conservatives are not serious. Once conservatives walk into the offices of the American Chamber of Commerce and demand that they began to clamp down on members who are hiring economic refugees, then I’ll believe that they are serious. Once the American Chamber of Commerce comes out and openly denounces businesses that are hiring these illegal immigrants, then we will have a chance to get meaningful comprehensive immigration reform passed through Congress and signed by President Barack Obama.