SAN DIEGO — Now that we’re in the new year, the nation’s 52 million Latinos need to make a resolution — to never again trust President Obama when it comes to immigration.
For one thing, Obama hasn’t earned that trust. Judging from his legislative record in the Illinois state Senate and the U.S. Senate, he never cared about immigrants or immigration. He only values it as a wedge issue to use against Republicans, and to make himself appear compassionate by comparison.
If you look back at his comments during the 2008 Democratic primaries, what Obama seemed most concerned about was not the plight of illegal immigrants but rather that employers might use illegal labor to pay U.S. workers lower wages. There is this narrative in the Democratic Party suggesting that African-American and blue-collar workers are hurt by competition from immigrants. Obama’s policies spring from there.
Of course, it doesn’t help make the president any more accountable on immigration that the Republicans are so bad on the issue that just about anything he does seems the lesser of evils. Nor does it help that no matter what he does, he still reaps a bounty of Latino support as he did when he won an astounding 71 percent of the Hispanic vote in his re-election.
When it comes to Obama and immigration, Latinos have been bamboozled too many times. And the games that are played show such a profound level of dishonesty and disrespect that it borders on contempt. Even Obama’s pledge to pursue immigration reform in the next few months has to be taken with a grain of salt.
Just look at what has happened with deportations. That illegal immigrants who shouldn’t be here are being forced to leave is not a bad thing. What is a bad thing is how the administration goes about doing it, and the fact that much of what it does is driven by politics.
In the 2012 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, an unprecedented 409,849 people were deported.This was an increase from the previous year and happened despite much-ballyhooed policy changes that were supposedly going to reduce the removals of undocumented people who were otherwise hardworking and law-abiding.
Obama has done little to act on his promises of immigration reform
The administration is once again attempting to insist that many of those who were removed were guilty of felonies without telling us that, for instance, under current federal law, someone who is deported and simply re-enters the country has committed a felony.
Here, Obama spent much of last year campaigning for Latino votes by accusing Republicans of demonizing illegal immigrants as “takers” and promising to find a way for more of them to remain in the United States. He even portrayed as cruel Mitt Romney’s solution, which was to dry up jobs so illegal immigrants would “self-deport.”
All the while, Obama’s underlings at the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement were demonizing illegal immigrants as criminals and removing record numbers of them. The administration doesn’t practice self-deportation and let illegal immigrants decide their fate; rather, it aggressively rounds them up and deports them, dividing families and sending thousands of U.S.-born children of undocumented parents into foster care.
According to media reports, many Latinos are upset over the new deportation figures. Really? What did they expect? Much of this is their fault. They should never have been so gullible and put so much stock in the assumption that a Democratic president “has their back” on immigration. They ignored the first rule of dealing with politicians in either party — forget what they say and watch what they do.
And when it comes to immigration, Obama does a lot of harm and hurts a lot of people. Time and again, the issue has been manipulated. The truth has been mangled. Immigrants have been offered false hope. And Latino voters have been misled.
On this issue, Obama comes across as cynical beyond belief. He’s the bad guy who likes to pretend that he’s the good guy. He does what he feels he needs to do for his own short-term benefit, and then tries to cover his tracks by misrepresenting the facts and taking advantage of how easy it is to fool people who support him and would rather believe anything he says than admit they made a mistake.
It’s a first-rate con job. And it will likely continue — because the con man has gotten away with it.