President Obama’s executive order was a chess move, one in a long game between left and right.
“Life is not always like chess. Just because you have the king surrounded, don’t think he is not capable of hurting you.” – Ron Livingston
Obama’s unilateral action on illegal immigration has left many wondering what exactly happened. There is a sense of confusion on multiple fronts, because of the timing of the move, the degree of execution, and the number of possibilities going forward. Allow me to clarify what just happened. This wasn’t about helping illegal immigrants, it wasn’t about keeping families together, and it wasn’t about progress in response to gridlock on the part of congress. This was a chess move, one in a long game between left, and right. Now, what happens next will determine who advances, and who loses.
SEIU (Service Employees International Union) recently held rallies in California to revel in Obama’s executive action on immigration. Although many were indeed happy with what Obama accomplished, there were some that wanted to make it clear that he didn’t go far enough. According to Michelle Moons of Breitbart:
“One SEIU rally involved taking signatures from any who said they would not be included under the new and expanded executive order, presumptively remaining illegally present in the U.S.. A photo and description was posted to the SEIU California Twitter account reading, ‘Names of friends and family who won’t benefit from ?#ImmigrationAction – but the Presidents 1st action helps millions’…”
Though Obama’s executive action was sweeping, and quite unprecedented–despite what you’ve been hearing regarding past actions by Reagan, and Bush 41–it was not what the left ultimately wants. The end game for the Democrats is a blanket amnesty for the 12 million or more illegal immigrants living in the United States. Given that, there are questions regarding why Obama did what he did.
Why did he wait? For his first two years in office, his Party had a great majority in the Senate, and control of the House. Had Obama wanted to enact full-blown amnesty, he, and the Democrats in congress could have done so easily. So why did he wait? The official response from the White House is that because of the recession, and numerous other challenges, Obama had too much on his plate to deal with immigration reform. That seems odd to me. According to Mike Miller of IJReview, there are really two reasons behind Obama’s delay:
“One, be able to take sole credit for immigration reform, thus repairing damage within the Hispanic community caused by his broken campaign promise in 2008. Two, leave Republicans on the outside looking in, with the hope of further alienating the GOP from Hispanic voters.”
I agree with Miller’s points. Certainly, by waiting until he alone could act, he eliminated any Republican engagement, thus making Republicans look bad. Had he acted during his first two years, there would have been talk of compromise, and Republicans would have ultimately gotten some credit. By doing things by executive fiat, Obama has essentially told the country that Republicans are completely worthless, and that they are the Party responsible for society’s ills at the moment. He just had to act because the Republicans refused to help the poor illegal immigrant families being torn apart! Democrats are compassionate, and Republicans are cruel. It’s just one more move that feeds the lovingly crafted narrative of the kind liberal versus the wicked and greedy conservative. This is also an act to help the Democratic nominee in 2016.
But there’s more to this than meets the eye. This is a chess move on Obama’s part, one that puts the Republicans in a very dire position. By enacting unilateral amnesty now, but on a relatively small scale, he is trying to force the hands of Republicans in the House, and Senate. There’s a reason he did this now. Obama wants comprehensive immigration reform (also known as full amnesty), and with Republicans in control, that is likely not an option, given the struggle we’ve seen in congress over the last several years. But, by issuing this executive order, he is putting pressure on Republicans to compromise with the Democrats in congress (also known as bending completely to their will) to craft a comprehensive bill which would make null, and void his executive action. A comprehensive bill would likely provide a pathway to citizenship for many more than those who were granted a pass by Obama’s executive action. If this takes place, Obama will have gotten his way, and he, and the Democrats will have gotten their new demographic.
A comprehensive bill, however, would give Republicans what they want on paper, a secure border, thus stemming the flow of future illegal immigration. Now, history—specifically 1986—shows us that any time Democrats promise to secure the border after amnesty, they won’t. But Republicans are a naïve and needy bunch. As it stands now, with Obama’s unilateral action, the border remains porous, and given the nature of his announcement, it is very likely that this will be a clarion call for millions more to come to the United States over the next few years. Obama has Republicans against the ropes. Either they don’t pass “comprehensive reform,” and Obama’s executive action allows the border to remain essentially open (as open as it has been), and gives amnesty to millions, or they pass a bill giving a pathway to citizenship to millions more illegal immigrants, with the hopes that the border will finally be properly secured, thus stopping the incoming tidal wave. But we know that either way, Republicans will lose.
After sticking his thumb in the eyes of Republicans by waiting to issue his executive action, Obama is now screwing them again, by making it appear as though he had to act alone, due to Republican intransigence. Once again, he is the compassionate leader, and he had to push the evil, mostly white Republicans to do something “good.” It’s all a game, and one that has dire consequences.
There are certainly Republicans who are smart enough to make a solid countermove against Obama, such as Ted Cruz, but those Republicans will ultimately be outweighed by the naive, needy bunch, who want illegals and leftists to adore them—for reasons that are still beyond me. Republicans may have control of the House, and Senate, but Obama has just cornered our King, and we’re too stupid, and afraid to fight back.