In his speech last Thursday, President Obama had two objectives. First, a dual one: create future votes for the Democrats and gain gratitude from illegal Hispanics for his generosity. The other objective was to set a trap for Congressional Republican by making them so outraged that they would gum up the federal budget with riders that would cause him to veto it, thus creating a government shutdown for which the Republicans would get the blame, thus deflating their momentum from the recent election.
While many elected Republicans denounced Obama’s action as outrageous and an affront to the Constitution, it is also not action that is publicly popular. (A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll shows that 48 percent oppose it and only 38 precedent support it.)
Although Republican denunciation of Obama’s unilateral move has been heated, cooler heads in the party want to pick their legislative targets carefully so they capitalize on the voters’ desire for positive action in Washington. Actions on tax reform and excessive environmental regulations, for example, are potentially strong ones for the Republicans. Hot heads on the other hand, seem to think that in-your-face confrontations, such as a threat to torpedo the federal budget, will somehow gain popularity with voters. They learned nothing from last year’s suicidal effort to shut down the government.
Time is on the side of the cooler heads, for there is little Congressional Republicans can do between now and the end of the year, for they hold only one leg of a three-legged Washington stool. Come January 3 they will have majorities in both houses.
In the area of immigration reform, there is one thing they could advance now and it is something Obama did not address. While he promised better border security (very likely it was only lip service), he did not mention the fact that government estimates are that 40 percent of the approximately 11 million illegals now in the country came here on legitimate visas — tourist or student — and simply let them expire. The federal government has no orderly means of keeping track of them so, when their visa expiration dates came along they simply disappeared into the population.
While ferreting out people in that category would be very difficult now, creating an effective solution to this problem going forward is achievable and is part of making our borders secure.
Here is how it might work: On arrival at a U.S. port of entry, the incoming person’s visa would be verified, along with a U.S. address, telephone number, and (if the person has one) an e-mail address. The owner or occupant of the address given must also be named (for tracing purposes).
Most importantly, the incoming visitor must have a return ticket in hand.
The Immigration & Customs Enforcement clerk would record the date, flight, and ticket number.
Then, say, 30 days before the visa expires, ICE would telephone the visitor as a reminder of the coming deadline. ICE personnel nearest to the visitor’s address would be alerted to pick up said visitor if he or she has not departed by the date on the return ticket. Any visitor who is on hand and has not left will be held for immediate deportation.
Republicans in the House could easily pass this element of reform and GOP members could introduce it in the Senate. Then, let Harry Reid and Obama explain why it is not a good idea.