Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The amnesty mandate

    Until now, the last clear mandate coming out of a presidential election was in 1932 when voters demanded of Roosevelt: End this Depression. And make it rain while you're at it.

    Notice I said "until now," and that should raise eyebrows. In this divided, divisive political landscape, how could anyone attach a clear mandate to any national election?

    Well, we can make such a projection now. All we have to do is listen to what Republican commentators are saying about immigration.

    George Will: "Most voters already favor less punitive immigration policies."

    Charles Krauthammer: "Promise amnesty right up front. Security at the border with guaranteed legalization."

    Sean Hannity (Sean Hannity?!): "You control the border first. You create a pathway for those people that are here — you don't say you've got to go home."

      Welcome, guys, to a sane national immigration strategy.

      Let's understand: By and large Republicans wouldn't be saying this if the candidate of "self-deportation" had won the White House. It would be all systems go for hardliners and foreigner loathers.

      What these commentators acknowledge is that the current GOP strategy undermines efforts to gain Latino votes. It is not clear that any of them actually believes the nation should do as they suggest simply because it is right. 

       GOP strategist Mike Murphy expresses it in a Time magazine commentary: "We repel Latinos, the fastest growing voting group in the country, with our nativist opposition to immigration reform that includes offering a path to citizenship."

       Yep, says Krauthammer. Mitt Romney made a big political mistake, general election-wise, when he chose to "go to the right of Rick Perry" on immigration to win the love of right wingers,  tea partiers and primary voters.

       Yes, but what about offering amnesty to hardworking individuals and their families because it is right?

       Leave that up to Barack Obama to say it in June, when he put a hold on deportation for children of undocumented individuals of long standing.

      "It's not amnesty. It's not immunity. It's not a pathway to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix," said the president. What it was under the circumstances, with Congress obstructing all else, was "the right thing to do."

     Krauthammer sneeringly called it the "perfect pander." Yeah, it's all about politics, not at all about logic, logistics, or any whiff of social justice.

     Whatever the reason for Republicans' post-Nov. 6 concessions on immigration, let's use it. Use a broad offer of amnesty as a fulcrum toward fundamentally comprehensive immigration reform, Mr. President.

     Use your 70 percent support from Hispanics Nov. 6 to push Congress to revisit the DREAM Act. Get Sen. Marco Rubio to the White House kitchen table, and with him arrange for the GOP votes it would take to make it happen.

     It's a new day on the immigration front. Consider what's happening in Colorado,  Indiana, Utah and Idaho. Each has a bipartisan coalition that has issued compact urging Congress to include a pathway to citizenship as part of the solution to a seemingly intractable political problem.

     Can't support these initiatives because they are right and proper? Well, then, do it simply on the basis that they would be good for the economy.

     A recent study rejects the assertion that immigrants take Americans' jobs and depress the economy.     

     "Immigration is not a zero-sum game when it comes to jobs, writes researcher Matthew Denhart." With these people's skills, their ambition, their buying power, "immigrants help grow the economy; they create more jobs for all of us, rather than stealing jobs that natives otherwise could fill."

     This mirrors George Will's nod to the all-American notion that immigrating — "risking uncertainty for personal and family betterment — is an entrepreneurial act."

     What bleeding-heart organization is this Denhart fellow flacking for anyway? What pie-in-the-sky, antibusiness, anti-American think tank has him on its payroll?

     That would be a recent entry into American think-tank arena: the George W. Bush Institute.

     Republicans are coming out of the woodwork to support the right thing, Mr. President. Nov. 6 was your day. Seize this one.

     Longtime Texas newspaperman John  Young lives in Colorado. Email:jyoungcolumn@gmail.co

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