Parsing the President’s State of the Union: What Happened to Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

Last night there was much to praise in President Obama’s State of the Union Address, including attention to our troubled economy and what appears to be a sterner approach to Congressional bullies who do not understand the word “compromise”.  But what was not present in our annual political ritual was any sign that the present administration is genuinely committed to immigration reform.

Immigrants and immigration reform earned three paragraphs in this State of the Union address.  The first paragraph described the children of illegal immigrants who were brought here against their will and now face deportation.  The first paragraph is a set up for a plea in the second paragraph to allow the children of illegal immigrants “a chance to earn their citizenship”.

While the so called Dream Act is highly laudable and already in place in some form in California and Texas, what Mr. Obama fails to mention is that it is under his own administration that the Secure Communities program run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has deported hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and their children.

For little more than a questionable traffic violation, and in the name of getting hardened illegal criminals off the streets, Mr. Obama’s DHS has broken up the families of hard working illegal immigrants. Even as our president now calls for compassion for these same individuals under the Dream Act, his own DHS under Secretary Janet Napolitano works 24/7 to send these immigrants back across the border.

In the second paragraph President Obama also brags that he is strong on illegal immigration and accurately observes that illegal border crossings from Mexico are declining.  What he fails to mention is that illegal drug smuggling along the Mexican border thrives and that these same drugs serve to attack the social fabric of our heartland, our suburbs, and our inner cities.

In the last of three paragraphs on immigration policy President Obama calls for “action” from Congress rather than “excuses”.  Most notably he states, “We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now.”  Yes, President Obama should be doing exactly that, but where is his legislative package?  And where is Mr. Obama’s leadership before Congress.

Finally the President again pleads that, “we should at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country”.  Does Mr. Obama actually not understand that his own DHS under Secretary Janet Napolitano is working 24/7 to achieve the exact opposite ends?

The truth is Mr. Obama has achieved no comprehensive immigration reform in his first term and in his second seems only committed to passing federal legislation in support of the Dream Act.  Unfortunately such a strategy leaves states like Arizona, Kansas, and Alabama to set the standards for the nation as other states jump on the bandwagon to blame illegal immigrants for our troubled economy and many of our other homegrown problems.

How bad can this get?  At this very moment the state of Arizona is collecting funds to build a “private” border wall.

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