President Obama tried to lead away from calling his actions “amnesty,” but it is a word he should stand proudly by.
Obama approached the issue like he was a target – citing his legal right to perform his action, referencing those who followed the path before him, and appealing for public support. In the past Obama insisted this very action was beyond his powers, and instead turned his critics towards immigration reform plans he pushed for throughout his terms. Perhaps it was the overwhelming defeat of his most recent push in the House of Representatives, but for some reason Obama turned a complete 180 and decided to stick it to his opponents.
The gritty details can be found anywhere, but the gist of his actions are this: illegal immigrants, who are the parents of legal children, that have lived in America for five years with no criminal record may apply for citizenship without fear of deportation. Currently there is no way for illegal immigrants to find legal status – it is always better to keep your head down than seek help.
“Who would like to live here legally?”
Clearly this is a great moment, but Obama was more determined to defend his actions than celebrate them. In addition to announcing his deferrred deportation program would be extended to illegal high-skilled workers, he gave a vague nod to improved border control and reminded us that this program did not apply to newly or recently-arrived illegal immigrants. His defensive nature is not without reason, but it almost seems necessary – keyword being “almost.” Leading up to and immediately after Obama’s speech, his Republican opponents threatened Obama with a spoiled legacy and a dedicated lack of bipartisanship on all issues. Perhaps the lightest parts of his speech were his appeals to ethos, but that raises the question: who is he appealing to? His conservative enemies spouted off the same old reasons they always give for discrediting amnesty, but doesn’t that say enough about them? These people are obtuse bigots who will not be won over by logic – they are somewhat locked into their extreme positions to appeal to extreme supporters that will in turn be locked into the Republican party (only to vote in moderates who won’t share their extreme views…).
I am of the opinion that Obama let the party-poopers poop his party. Sure, we will all look back and remember the greatness of what he did, but many of us will also remember the moment everyone turned to look at the jerks holding up the wall and calling us names.
The fact that Obama was shamed out of calling his actions amnesty is disappointing. Amnesty is not a bad word, and I encourage anyone who hasn’t to read my essay “Amnesty Would Be Amicable In America” in which I dispel many of the negative claims towards amnesty.
Possibly even more important than Obama’s amnesty act is (what seems to be) his real motive behind it. Obama challenged his opponents to make his act pointless by pushing through immigration reform, but that is only half of it.
Obama’s deferred deportation program doesn’t immediately grant applicants immigration – it simply puts them in the line for it. That line, in some cases, is about 10 years long. By adding potentially 5 million people to that line, the current immigration system will take a beating that may just completely wreck it.
Now I don’t know the President or have any insight into his inner workings, but I like to believe this was all a part of his plan; if he can’t convince us to create a new immigration system, he’ll just break the old one so we have no choice!
To that I say, kudos to you Mr. Obama! Next time though, let yourself enjoy your victory.