On the Agenda: Political calculations behind Obama immigration policy
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
President Obama announced last week that his administration would cease deporting undocumented young people if they met certain criteria. It was a fascinating political calculation.
Around 800,000 undocumented children live in the U.S. They have no recollection of or roots in the countries in which they were born. They had no role in their parents’ decision to come to the U.S. Many don’t speak anything but English.
Before the anti-immigrant firestorm exploded on the political scene in 2006, politicians of all stripes recognized the need to acknowledge these children and find a way to incorporate them into American society.
Even Gov. Perry signed the Texas Dream Act in 2001, a bill that accomplishes much of what the President just endorsed. What seemed like a good idea in 2001 cost Mr. Perry dearly in his failed presidential run a decade later.
Critics like Sen. Marco Rubio correctly point out the president’s decision was polarizing and will make a congressional resolution of immigration issues more difficult. But this is a campaign season, and for months Hispanics have heard nothing but hostility during the Republican presidential nominating process.
Don’t forget, Mitt Romney was even booed in a debate for merely mentioning that his father was born in Mexico.
Almost every battleground state now has a sizable and growing legal Hispanic population that would otherwise be culturally and socially sympathetic to the GOP.
But in the starkest possible terms, President Obama has now put massive deportations of innocent children back on the table. No fence sitting on this one. Every Republican running for office anywhere had to endorse hard line opposition.
But that comes at a cost. Wedge issues don’t allow for nuance or shades of gray. Splitting up families or deporting innocent children is inevitably a visceral issue in the targeted community.
It’s true. Mr. Obama’s decision does make a legislative resolution more difficult. But in the zero sum game of presidential electoral politics in battleground states, he probably won substantially more votes than he lost.
Texas politics and government are rarely what they seem. Join
publisher Harvey Kronberg every Monday as he shares the stories behind the stories in
. Kronberg has covered the Capitol for more than 20 years, and he knows where to find the scoop.