“You can deceive all the people part of the time, and part of the people all the time,” Abraham Lincoln once noted, “but not all the people all the time.”
Rhetoric Over Substance: The Mexican President As Public Relations Surrogate
Being animmigration attorney in Riverside, I’m tired of this administration’s reliance on rhetoric over substance as the basis of maintaining public support for its immigration measures.
Or more precisely, the administration’s lack of immigration measures other than “lock them up and throw away the key” type of policies
At least with the Bush presidency, the public usually knew where the administration stood on the issues.
The Obama group, on the other hand, keeps coming up with new ways to disguise his record of non-support for immigration reform.
Earlier this week, the political spin attempt took place in the context of a joint press conference between two heads of state.
At the conference, Mexico President Felipe Calderon, noted his appreciation for Obama’s “clear and determined support for the adoption of a comprehensive migratory reform in this country, as well as his firm commitment to the human and civil rights of communities, regardless of their point of origin.”
I doubt Calderon would feel this way if he debriefed the immigrants returning home from the United States over the past few years.
A Breath Of Fresh Air: An Insider Speaks Out
On the same day as the joint press conference, an article written by a former lead attorney for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Roxana Bacon, slammed the Obama record on immigration reform.
Writing in the Arizona Attorney, Bacon states in unusually clear language, “The neglect in the field of immigration has been so acute that most who care about that hot topic have lost hope change could happen.” “Si se puede” now looks more like “No me molesta.”
She points to the administration’s four major shortcomings:
- Lack of Leadership. When immigration reform was brought up, no one stood up to assert direction or purpose.
- Indifference. When advocates of programs like the DREAM Act pushed forward, the White House was missing in action.
- Timidity. On the bureaucratic end, claims Bacon, USCIS did not articulate visionary policy statements or practical field directives. They went underground rather than strive for effective immigration solutions.
- Duplicity. Moreover, she claims Obama’s pro-immigration supporters were outright duped when they were told implementing tougher-than-ever border enforcement measures would appease anti-immigration forces.
Bacon writes,“We need visionary thinking and incisive analysis grounded on economic truths to create the functioning immigration policy the nation needs.”
She added, “None of this is likely to come from this Congress, or from this Administration.”
Bacon’s description reminds me of a popular elementary school yard game.
Like kids playing hide-and-seek, Obama administration officials are afraid to step out of the shadows and risk getting tagged by immigration reform opponents.
Immigration Policy Under Obama: The Progressive Turns Regressive
A few months ago, in “Is Immigration Reform Possible Without Congress,” I discussed the possibility that certain aspects of immigration law could change without congressional approval. With a little courage by the president and leadership by immigration officials, some of the most pressing immigration problems could be resolved. Without rancorous debate.
This view had been confirmed by a internal policy memo which somehow got into the hands of the media and became public news.
Bacon, it is now know, was one of the co-authors of that memo.
Shortly after the memo was released, USCIS and Obama came under a lot of criticism – mainly from critics of immigration reform.
They called it a back-door amnesty. Nothing new there.
For immigration opponents, every positive piece of immigration reform, including the DREAM Act, is amnesty.
Most of the proposals in the memo were not ground-breaking. Nor were any of the ideas exaggerated stretches of existing laws. In fact, they were mild modifications or extensions of current policies.
However, once the criticisms began, the administration retreated – even though it had not yet advanced forward.
The Obama administration renewed its vows to arrest more immigrants, deport more immigrants, and exercised “less discretion than at any time in our nation’s modern history.”
“Progressive became regressive,” Bacon notes, “and the promised helping hand had a serious slap to it.”
The double-speak employed by this administration is deliberately confusing. It’s geared to winning votes in the next election, by placating pro-immigration advocates with pure rhetoric.
In my view, as a deportation defense attorney, the reasons for the president’s behavior can be summarized by two questions:
- Is this administration politically afraid to take pro-immigration actions into its own hands?
- Or does this administration simply not care about the plight of immigrants trapped in a broken system?
By Carlos Batara, Immigration Law, Policy, And Politics