A Wrong Turn at the Border

President Barack Obama’s recent decision to not enforce the immigration laws in the cases of young people who were brought to the country as children, “do not present a risk to national security or public safety,” and meet certain other criteria is widely assumed to be political ploy intended to shore up support among Hispanic voters. This theory is so widely believed that Obama’s political director, David Plouffe, went on CNN to announce that “this is not a political move.”

The official denial did nothing to allay the suspicions of others, and pretty much confirmed ours, but it is not clear the new policy is a smart political move. There’s a limit to the benefits, and there could very well be a greater cost.

The new policy will likely please some Hispanic voters, but there is no way to calculate how many. Not all Hispanics are eager to open the borders, and those who are probably would have been just as persuaded by the argument that a Republican would likely impose a stricter border security policy than has Obama. What’s more, those Hispanics who do like the new immigration policy might not like it quite enough overcome their disapproval of Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage, his war against the Catholic Church, and of course the many policies that have resulted in an economy so lousy that economy that can’t provide enough jobs for the people already here.

Hispanics aren’t the only segment of America worried about the persistently and extremely high unemployment rate, of course, nor will they be the only ones to wonder how allowing an extra million or young people to join the job will affect that unhappy situation. Even the editors and reporters of the Washington Post, who would much prefer to be writing about Mitt Romney’s high school bully days, are wondering how the extra workers are going to affect the “aspirations of legal Americans.” The high-income, highly educated voters that once supported Obama won’t feel threatened by the cheaper labor of young illegal immigrants, but neither are they so enthusiastic about illegal immigration that the new will policy will provide a reason to ignore their this gives them no reason to overcome their other newfound objections to his tax proposals and other economic ideas. The lower-income voters who previously voted for Obama, especially the black and youth blocs, will have yet another reason to stay home.

Unless the Attorney General can somehow get all those illegal immigrants registered to vote, it’s hard to see how Obama comes out ahead on this move.

— Bud Norman


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