President Obama last June promised to take executive action on so-called “comprehensive immigration reform” if Congress failed to act by the end of the summer. But last week the president executed a spectacular political about-face as illegal immigration advocates accused him of betrayal.
Of course that’s nothing more than business as usual in Washington, where political flip-flopping is a highly developed art form. “I was for it before I was against it” or “If you like your health insurance you can keep it,” the politicians tell us, and they wonder why we don’t trust them. President Obama is a master of this particular art form; nothing is ever his fault. He blames George W. Bush, those horrible Republicans and/or the devious Koch Brothers. As I was saying, it’s business as usual at the White House.
Getting back to Obama’s immigration flip-flop, he told new “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd he was delaying action on immigration reform until after November’s mid-term elections because of this summer’s surge of Central American children pouring across our southern border with Mexico. “I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country,” Obama told Todd, “but it’s going to be more sustainable and more effective . . .” Baloney!
Despite repeated denials politics had anything to do with his decision, Obama clearly delayed executive action on illegal immigration in a desperate attempt to maintain Democrat control of the Senate, in which several incumbent red state Democrats face tough reelection battles.
Officials of the giant Service Employees International Union (SEIU), a big contributor to Democrats, said they were “deeply disappointed” by the president’s decision on immigration. Arturo Carmona, executive director of Presente.org, which wants to legalize the undocumented citizens, added “the president’s latest broken promise is another slap in the face of the Latino and immigrant community.” Like many illegal immigration advocates, Presente lobbies for open borders and a conditional amnesty for more than 11 million illegal aliens (excuse me, “undocumented workers”).
Meanwhile, those illegal Central American children just keep coming and the Obama administration ships them off to different destinations around the country while keeping the details under wraps. According to the Homeland Security Department, more than 66,000 unaccompanied children have been caught crossing our border with Mexico since last October. Federal law requires local school districts enroll these illegal children at a high cost to American taxpayers.
In 2010 — the last year for which accurate statistics are available — the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) reported states, counties and cities spent nearly $1.2 billion on illegal immigrants, including $830 million to educate their children. A more recent report puts the education price tag for illegal Central American children at $761 million. In Nevada where Hispanics, legal and illegal, account for more than 25 percent of the total population, FAIR estimates illegal immigrants cost each Nevada household nearly $1,700 per year. And we wonder why our state’s education budget is stretched to the limit. Just ask the State Board of Education how much we’re spending on free lunches and ESL (English as a Second Language) programs.
Some jurisdictions are balking at paying to educate illegal immigrant children. Miami/Dade (Fla.) County officials asked the federal government to pick up the tab as did Arizona School Superintendent John Huppenthal, who asked the Feds to pay because “these unaccompanied minors . . . were bussed into our state by the federal government.” Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, has yet to respond.
Although Obama will attempt to legalize many of these illegal immigrants following the November elections, we should protest vigorously and demand he follow the law.
Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal’s senior political columnist.