In an interview with Telemundo on Tuesday, President Obama said that an immigration reform bill that didn’t provide citizenship to currently illegal immigrants “does not make sense.” The hard-line position makes it more difficult for the White House, Senate Democrats and House Republicans to negotiate a final deal to reform the nation’s immigration system.
“It does not make sense to me, if we’re gonna make this once-in-a-generation effort to finally fix the system, to leave the status of 11 million people or so unresolved,” Obama said in the interview.
Obama’s remarks would be understandable if the immigration legislation currently under consideration actually fixed the system. The CBO estimated that the Senate bill, even with the inclusion of the Corker “border surge” amendment would only reduce illegal immigration by 50%, in a best case scenario. The bill likely would do little to reduce the back-long of nearly 5 million hopeful immigrants waiting in line in other countries to enter the U.S.
The Senate amnesty bill that the White House and Democrats are pushing the House to accept repeats the same mistakes of the 1986 amnesty legislation. That bill promised increased security and enforcement in exchange for citizenship for 3 million illegal immigrants in the country at the time. The enforcement never materialized and the number of illegal immigrants swelled to the current 11 million.
Most of the public would support legalization and even, possibly, citizenship of current illegal immigrants if they knew the legal immigration system were fixed and illegal immigration was massively reduced. It simply “does not make sense” to enact a law that guarantees another debate on immigration in the near future. It makes less sense to enact a law that encourages millions of immigrants to illegally enter the country in hopes of a future amnesty deal. People shouldn’t be encouraged to live in the shadows.
Obama’s insistence that citizenship be offered before security or enforcement are ensured is a position almost designed to block a compromise. Remember that Democrats controlled all branches of government for two years and took no action on the issue. They would rather have the politics of the issue than enact the policy.