By Dennis Culloton
President Obama’s recent executive order to suspend deportations of the children of undocumented aliens was a brilliant tactically, smart politically and it was the right thing to do (More on that later).
First, on the tactics and politics – This is an example of how an executive office holders, especially in politics, can take action while other forces align against them. In this case, Congress failed to support former President George W. Bush’s immigration reform proposals. Congress has had the Dream Act, which would have allowed for a path to citizenship for undocumented children, for a decade without any progress.
President Obama seized the opportunity to solidify and represent a growing part of our population, a growing number of our registered voters, and a growing part of the Democratic Party. He allowed the legislative branch to debate this issue for nearly a decade and he did something only the President can do. Only a President with the stroke of a pen can issue an executive order. If used judiciously, executive orders can have great power. That’s what happened here. That’s why my friends in the Republican Party are upset.
Not only does this appeal to some Hispanics, it will resonate with parents of all backgrounds.
As for this being the right thing to do, I’ve never understood why the Republican Party did not view the immigration issue differently. Politics is a game of addition.
For the past decade, the Republican Party has been a leading voice on anti-immigration proposals. While there are certainly social issues to be resolved about illegal immigration, the children of parents who came for a better life are as American as the kids next door.
The engraving on the Statue of Liberty says, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses…”, not “Give us your visa exemptions for biomedical engineers and computer programmers.”
Republicans were triangulated by a clever well thought out political strategy that allowed the president to gain the high ground. Meanwhile, the Republican standard-bearer was left flatfooted.