Another Perspective

A Million New ‘Americans’

Obama's crass immigration politics just got crasser.

By 6.18.12

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President Obama made it crystal clear Friday, for the few left who doubted it, that he has no intention of ever making any useful distinction between people who are citizens of the United States and those who are not. Another part of the Democratic base pandered to, though he didn't need to "evolve" on this one. He's never thought keeping undocumented Democrats out of the country was a good idea. 

Obama created somewhere north or south of a million new "Americans" Friday when he declared that his administration will no longer attempt to deport citizens of other countries illegally here who were brought here when they were children. Not that his administration was attempting all that hard anyway. The southern border to the United States remains a line on the map that all members of one of our major political parties wish to ignore, as do too many of the other. (Border? What's a mean old border between friends?)

Obama perfumed his most recent brazen run around Congress and the U.S. Constitution by draping it in terms of "fairness," as he does most of his hustles, and setting out phony standards for his amnesty plan that certainly can't and won't be enforced. Young citizens of other countries can avoid being even concerned about the heave-ho if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and have been in the country for at least five continuous years.

Even if sufficient bureaucrats and document stampers existed to check these two items, there's no way of reliably ascertaining when someone came to El Norte. Obama must be under the impression that illegals have their butts date-stamped when they sneak across the border.

"This is not amnesty," Obama said Friday. "This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. This is not a permanent fix. This is the right thing to do."

Of course it's amnesty and it's immunity. It's far from the right thing to do (or not do in this case). Obama is only right that it's not a fix, permanent or temporary, beyond the fact that America will be in a hell of a fix if we don't decide to have real borders and real, enforceable standards for citizenship.

Doubtless many of the people included in this blanket amnesty will make fine Americans, and it would take a heart of stone not to sympathize with the yearnings of people in poor countries who want to enjoy the advantages of life in America. But at the present America is a nation of unemployed immigrants. There is no way we can accommodate tens, perhaps hundreds of millions of people who would rather live in America than where they are. Borders and standards for citizenship are not hate crimes, they are necessities of sovereignty.

America has immigration law on top of immigration law. But most are ignored most of the time. In practice anyone on Earth or the closer planets with a Spanish last name has a get-into-America-free card. This has been the case under Democratic and Republican administrations for crass political reasons.

Democrats don't want to oblige Mexicans, Colombians, Peruvians, et al. to return to their own countries because these folks vote for Democrats when they become U.S. citizens, and too often before. Republicans don't have the nerve to attempt to deport people with Spanish last names who are citizens of other countries because they're afraid people with Spanish last names who are Americans will not vote for them if they do. One side in this sorry business is motivated by raw political opportunism, the other by a testosterone deficiency.

The Big Lie on this one, which has been pushed by the Left for so long that even people on the Right have begun to believe it, is that any coherent and consistent effort to maintain a southern border to the United States and to set standards for American citizenship is anti-Hispanic. It's not. And conservatives, especially conservative Republicans running for office, should say so. They should call the folks retailing this nonsense what they are, demagogues and cheap political hustlers.

Why should an American with a Spanish last name be offended if his government prevents a citizen of another country with a Spanish last name from coming here or staying here illegally to compete for the American's job and to suck up government services the American will have to help pay for? It certainly wouldn't ruin my day to learn of a Brit here illegally who was obliged to get on back to Old Blighty where he belongs. And when large numbers of Belgians and Norwegians start pouring over our southern border, we'll have to deal firmly, intelligently, and fairly with them as well.

Some Americans with Spanish last names do favor an almost open immigration policy. But the number of these folks is exaggerated by the Left for political effect. Even those Americans who believe in a free flow between Latin America and the U.S. are more interested in a job and a bright future for their children than they are in shoe-horning every person on the planet with even the most tenuous connection to Spain or the Spanish language into the United States.

Republicans regularly anguish over how they can win the votes of Americans with Spanish last names. The answer isn't to fall down the hopeless rabbit hole of identity politics, but to fashion and promote policies that lead to freedom and prosperity for all Americans, hyphenated and otherwise.

While we're up, I have to wonder that more people with Spanish last names are not offended by that cow-patty of a word, Hispanic. The folks at the U.S. Census Bureau dreamed up this clunker back in Tricky Dick days to aid in the butt-insky type of stuff they do. It applies to anyone with a connection to Spain or Spanish, which covers a lot of very different people with different outlooks.

People rudely corralled under the designation Hispanic are as various as those of Non-Spanish backgrounds. Most would rather be identified by their nation of origin – Mexicans, Colombians, Peruvians, etc. – or as just Americans, and resonate to Hispanic about as much as I would resonate to Europanic.

Sadly, immigration is, and for the foreseeable future will likely remain, an area suffused with fear and resentment and base political opportunism. It's an issue, like race or the relations between the sexes (the standard two as well as all the new niche sexes), where few politicians have the nerve to implement the policies we need, and almost no one is willing to utter the truth. In any review of our national conversation on immigration over the past couple of decades, the words "courage" and "coherence" will not figure prominently. That's too bad for us all, not least Americans with Spanish last names, who are being badly used.

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About the Author

Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.