When Obama could have passed comprehensive immigration reform -- when he still had 60 Senate Democrats -- he didn't lift a finger to push it. Now that he can't pass it -- it is too late in the year, he doesn't have 60 votes and many Democrats will defect -- he aggressively pushes it in a national speech.
The opportunism and hypocrisy of his attempt to manipulate America's Latinos into forgetting his previous inaction is transparent and obvious. Polls show him losing Hispanics due to high and continuing unemployment and losing congressional seats in the bargain, so Obama has dug up the immigration proposals of former President George W. Bush, dusted them off and made them his own.
He knows it won't pass. But he hopes that it will reignite Latino enthusiasm for his failing presidency and anger at Republicans for frustrating immigration reform.
In the process, Obama is neglecting the real answer to immigration. It is ridiculous to speak of sealing the border. A border of more than 1,500 miles can't be sealed. It can't even be controlled. As long as people want to cross, they will be able to get over. Some won't make it. They will just keep trying until they do.
To sell his amnesty program for those already here, Obama raised the red herring of deportation, saying that we could never round up and send away 11 million people.
But he brushed over the real answer: to dry up the jobs. If employers would not hire illegal immigrants, they would stop coming here -- and those already here would pack up and go home of their own accord. Obama's promise, in his speech, to invigorate the enforcement of sanctions on employers who hire illegals rang hollow. If he hasn't done it over the past year and a half, what confidence do we have that he will see the light now?
Employer sanctions, a guest-worker program at good wages with health care and a national biometric identification card must be the pillars of a real solution to illegal immigration. The promise of amnesty would be totally unnecessary if there were no jobs here to lure them and hold them. Amnesty presents a false choice. It assumes that we cannot dry up the jobs. But we can!
Were companies to face heavy corporate fines and jail time for those who hired the illegal workers, they would stop hiring. If a guest-worker program brought in a sufficient labor force to meet their needs -- and returned them back home again -- it would not be necessary to hire illegal immigrants.
But as long as employers can get away with hiring illegals and paying them starvation wages, they will do so. It is only when they face the prospect of prison that they will see the light and start paying good wages as part of a national guest-worker program.
The cynicism of Obama in kindling hopes for amnesty only to see them certainly dashed is breathtaking. And his pushing the false choice of amnesty -- when eliminating the jobs that fuel illegal immigration is a readily available solution -- is revolting.
He doesn't want a law. He wants a fight, and he wants the votes that a fight may bring him. It is Chicago polarizing politics at its very worst.