Can Enforcement Yield Amnesty?

By Mark Krikorian on February 20, 2009

Tom Barry is one of the more prolific, and smarter, writers on the open-borders left. His recent analysis of Napolitano's comments on her immigration agenda makes for encouraging reading (for our side). He writes:

As a strategy to build center-right support for comprehensive immigration reform, including legalization, the Washington, DC-based liberal immigration lobby has advocated that the Democratic Party and all immigrant-rights advocates adopt a "rule of law" framework that includes more border security and employment verification while placing the onus on immigrants themselves to "get right with the law."

The concept behind this strategic maneuvering is that Americans will support a legalization provision for illegal immigrants if the proposal is couched in tough "rule of law" language. In other words, by moving to the right immigration advocates would be better positioned to advance a liberal immigration reform.

Thus far, however, this pro-immigration strategy of talking tough to advance CIR ["comprehensive immigration reform," i.e. amnesty — MK] has fallen flat. The Bush administration used the "rule of law" position on immigration to rationalize the immigrant crackdown. The Obama administration to date has shown few signs of backing away from the Bush administration's enforcement-first regimen. The "rule of law" logic of border control and immigration enforcement continues to dominate the immigration debate in America.

This "strategic maneuvering" by the pro-amnesty left is really their only option at this point. On the other hand, if it's merely a matter of tough-sounding language, then amnesty doesn't have much more of a chance than before; it will take a full four-year term of genuine enforcement action to amass some credibility before Obama's going to be in any position to ask the public to back him amnesty. Even he hinted at that in a recent interview with one of the country's top Spanish-language radio hosts:

THE PRESIDENT: . . .And then we’ve got to have comprehensive immigration reform. Now, you know, we need to get started working on it now. It’s going to take some time to move that forward, but I’m very committed to making it happen. And we’re going to be convening leadership on this issue so that we can start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months.

Q Mr. President, is there some sort of network we could establish to be in communication regarding the comprehensive immigration reform, and personally what can I do?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you know, the key thing right now is obviously we’ve got to make sure that all the people who are involved in immigration reform issues, that they sit down together and they start thinking about how we’re going to approach this problem. Politically it’s going to be tough. It’s probably tougher now than it was, partly because of the fact that the economy has gotten worse. So what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to focus on the economy, I’ve got to focus on housing, and make sure that people feel a little bit more secure; at the same time, get the various immigrant rights groups together and have them start providing some advice in terms of what strategies we’re going to pursue in Congress.

"It's going to take some time", "start getting that legislation drawn up over the next several months", "Politically it’s going to be tough." Sounds to me like he's trying to lower expectations.