WASHINGTON – Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton made news by saying that, as president, she would go beyond what Obama has done to grant a reprieve to millions of illegal immigrants.
Obama’s executive order
As we know, President Obama used his executive authority to grant “de facto” amnesty to millions of (mostly Latino) illegal immigrants. He claimed, that he could do this on the basis of “prosecutorial discretion”, the accepted principle that allows judicial authorities not to pursue certain crimes.
Well, this was a stretch. “Prosecutorial discretion” is not infrequent; but it is understood that it will be applied to individual cases, and not to millions of law-breakers.
Obama’s executive order was and is controversial. In fact, the matter is currently under judicial review. Given this context, it is not clear what Hillary Clinton meant when she said that she is prepared to go even further. Does she think that any president could do more unilaterally (that is without any new legislation passed by Congress) than what Obama did at the end of 2014?
Hillary Clinton supports legalization
Who knows really. But what we do know is that along with this statement Mrs. Clinton has also openly declared her support for a process that would eventually lead to the legalization of about 11 to 12 million illegal immigrants currently living in the USA.
Whatever the legal debate on the limits of presidential authority in addressing this issue, Hillary Clinton is now clearly on the side of those who advocate amnesty, or something close to it, with or without new laws.
Democrats want Latino votes
May be this is no surprise. She is a Democrat. All Democrats usually court minority voters. As the Hispanic population keeps growing, the Latino vote is getting more and more significant. Therefore, embracing immigration reforms looks politically smart.
The crowded field of Republicans aspiring to the nomination should take notice. It would be most unfortunate if the Republican candidates for the Republican nomination would display the same level of obtuse idiocy on immigration that we saw in 2012. To keep proclaiming that they support “self-deportation”, (this was Mitt Romney’s brilliant idea), and that we should just “enforce the laws” and get busy deporting 11 or 12 million people is fantastically stupid, not to mention totally impractical.
To be clear on this, I support legal immigration and safe borders going forward. But we have to deal with the mess that has been created by decades of poor enforcement. There are millions of illegal immigrants who have been in America for decades.
Do we really want to uproot all of them and kick them out? Has anybody thought about the horrible consequences for the people themselves, their families, (many of them have children who are US citizens because they were born here), their finances, and what not? Do we really think that millions of people who have built their lives here in America can be just “sent back”, just as mislabeled FedEx packages to be returned to sender? Are we that crazy?
Strike a balance
I fully understand that serious immigration reform has to be done well. We certainly do not want new laws creating the impression that illegal immigration will be tolerated in the future. We do not want to create the impression that every now and then we shall have another amnesty that will legalize all those who are already here. However, it would be good for America to resolve this mess of millions of people who live here, but in some sort of twilight because of their illegal status.
Hillary Clinton has told America where she stands. Of course, with this she is also letting all the Latino voters know that she is on their side. And this will translate into millions of votes in November 2016.
The right thing to do
Be that as it may, I say that being in favor of creating a path to legal status for millions of illegal immigrants is not just good politics. It is the right thing to do. The Republicans who want to be president should come up with their own constructive and credible proposals to fix this problem.