President Obama’s Immigration Speech, with a few notes…

You could skip at least the first two minutes of obligatory pablum. At around two minutes the President quite rightly proclaims the value of tackling problems head-on and not “kicking the can down the road” to future generations, and boasts of his administration’s putative accomplishments on education reform [ack!], healthcare, financial reform, and clean energy.  So you could skip all that too, up to 4:10.  That’s where he finally gets to immigration reform, and you should all hear it starting there. I’m not going to narrate the rest of it, but just add a few comments as I think of them.

One of his main practical and political points is that a few years ago comprehensive immigration reform had 11 Republican Senators on board including McCain and Graham;  now they are all balking.

John Kyl, one of those eleven, has already responded to that, on FOX News:

“[Since then] my constituents have said do everything you can to secure the border first,” Kyl told Fox News Channel. “It’s our job to secure the border, whether or not we end up passing so-called comprehensive immigration reform.”

The President, however, had already anticipated that line, in this important passage you should all hear, starting at 20:24:

Today, we have more boots on the ground near the Southwest border than at any time in our history. Let me repeat that: We have more boots on the ground on the Southwest border than at any time in our history. We doubled the personnel assigned to Border Enforcement Security Task Forces. We tripled the number of intelligence analysts along the border. For the first time, we’ve begun screening 100 percent of southbound rail shipments. And as a result, we’re seizing more illegal guns, cash and drugs than in years past. Contrary to some of the reports that you see, crime along the border is down. And statistics collected by Customs and Border Protection reflect a significant reduction in the number of people trying to cross the border illegally.

So the bottom line is this: The southern border is more secure today than at any time in the past 20 years. That doesn’t mean we don’t have more work to do. We have to do that work, but it’s important that we acknowledge the facts. Even as we are committed to doing what’s necessary to secure our borders, even without passage of the new law, there are those who argue that we should not move forward with any other elements of reform until we have fully sealed our borders. But our borders are just too vast for us to be able to solve the problem only with fences and border patrols. It won’t work. Our borders will not be secure as long as our limited resources are devoted to not only stopping gangs and potential terrorists, but also the hundreds of thousands who attempt to cross each year simply to find work.

Kyl is correct that he, McCain, and the other obstructionists are responding to public pressure (and hoping for political gain) but they are being demagogues, knowingly responding to their most ignorant ill-informed constituents rather than being leaders and educating them.

If Democrats have any spine and brains – which would be a most welcome development – they’ll bring a good comprehensive immigration reform bill up for a vote, soon, and repeatedly, and let Republicans keep obstructing it.  Meanwhile on the grassroots level we’ll keep reaching out to Hispanic citizens and making sure they all come out to vote in November.  Who knows – that could be the key to having a big enough, and bold enough, Democratic majority in both houses that we really CAN get immigration reform through next year, along with many other good things.

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A brief nod to the DREAM Act comes at 25:25.  I still have no idea why Congress can’t at least pass that.  Are the Republican Senators who originally sponsored – even helped write it (e.g. Hatch, Lugar) – actually gonna filibuster it now?  Or are the Dems really that chicken-shit of being called Mexican lovers?  (Still no answer from Loretta by the way)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.