We should question Obama’s motiveBy Nathan James | 07/02/2012 11:53pm
Two weeks ago Obama used his power of executive mandate to pass into law a series of reforms covering the subject of immigration. These reforms grant de facto amnesty to immigrants who meet a number of criteria in addition to having graduated from an American high school or college.
Although many have celebrated these reforms, others have insinuated they may have been motivated by politics rather than ethics. Although I believe Obama is the target of much unjust criticism, I also believe Americans have reason to question his motives in this case.
First, let’s look at what Obama stands to gain from these new policies. Politically, the American population of Latinos is an untapped resource. In Florida, there are over 600,000 Latinos who are eligible to vote but have not registered. A politician who manages to curry favor with these unregistered individuals will have a crucial advantage in this battleground state, in addition to others throughout the country. Numerically speaking, Latinos may be the most important demographic in the 2012 election.
However, as far as the courting of the Latino demographic is concerned, it’s not enough to just be preferred over your opponent. In order to take full advantage of this minority group’s voting power, Obama will have to rouse unregistered Latinos out of apathy. This may be accomplished through speeches, public statements, or — relevant to the topic at hand — immigration reform.
There are several reasons to be suspicious of Obama’s new immigration policies. First, is the timing. Obama has been under pressure to reform American immigration policy since the moment he took office, so why has he waited until the last months of his term to actually do anything about it?
Second, Obama has publicly stated that these policies are not meant to be cure-alls and must be followed by further, supplementary policies. But since he may soon be out of office, and therefore not around to pass any subsequent immigration laws, doesn’t the timing seem a little inappropriate?
Third, Obama’s use of executive mandate in this situation is suspicious. The power to give executive orders is a tremendous one, and one which many feel the president has overused. In this particular instance, Obama has subverted the will of Congress, which has repeatedly blocked immigration policies like the ones Obama just effectively ordered.
Given that until now, Obama has been very slow to act on the issue of immigration, it seems unlikely that he suddenly feels so strongly about the issue he sees no alternative to an executive order. It is much more likely he used an executive order because it will take effect before the election, and he, as its sole enactor of the policy, will take full credit for its existence.
I’m not saying for certain this new policy is motivated by politics rather than ethics. I believe immigration reform in this country is sorely needed, and I take no issue with the content of this latest policy change. But I will say that the circumstances surrounding it are suspicious, and Americans should very closely watch Obama’s handling of immigration in the future — assuming of course that he wins the election.
If, at the start of 2013, he reverts to his former policy of silence and inaction, and if, in spite of his promises, he fails to supplement this reform with further addendums and amendments, Americans should be very suspicious.
Nathan James is a sophomore majoring in public relations.