Should we expect progress to emerge from President Obama's meeting with Congressional leaders to discuss immigration reform? I doubt it. With national unemployment at 9.4 percent and black unemployment at 14.9 percent, it is quite unlikely that any major legislative action will take place this calendar year.
Cynics say that the President's meeting is a photo opportunity for him to further solidify the Democratic Party's grasp on the Hispanic vote rather than a serious effort to initiate a conversation about immigration reform. Therefore, it might behoove Republicans to approach the rescheduled meeting with caution since they are dealing with a President who has outmaneuvered them at every turn. After watching Obama tie Republicans in knots over the Sonia Sotomayor nomination, I see the June meeting as more icing on the cake in the Democratic Party's shameless pursuit of the Latino vote.
Given the complexity of immigration issues, it is doubtful that anything constructive can come from this meeting. Instead, the bipartisan meeting gives the Obama Administration another opportunity to paint Republicans as obstructionist to immigration reform. The Democrats will use any reservations raised by Republican leaders to brand them more deeply as racist, anti-immigrant bigots. What is likely to happen is a Democratic Party effort to resurrect the ill-fated 2008 immigration bill defeated in the Senate because of massive grassroots opposition to its amnesty provisions.
Most Americans support immigration reform in principle. For decades, however, their has been a disjuncture between public opinion and the actions of our governmental officials and policy elites. Law professor, Peter Schuck, has written eloquently about this problem. The question arises: is our nation prepared for a real substantive conversation about this issue that does not descend into name-calling? Before such a conversation can begin in earnest, policymakers must spell out for the American people what they mean by "Comprehensive Immigration Reform."
Sometimes reform is presented as a vague concept that means different things to different people. For some people, it means border control and enforcement of laws against illegal immigrants. For others, it means amnesty or an easy path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
We have a serious problem on our hands. What kind of nation does not respect its own laws? The Obama Administration's retrenchment from enforcement of existing laws should trouble all Americans.
To be truly comprehensive, immigration reform should address thorny issues such as birthright citizenship, E-Verify and 287 (g) expansion, over-population, crime, family reunification, identification theft, ballot security, discrimination against immigrations from disfavored nations, as well as the very real adverse impacts to local communities and vulnerable native populations.
In conclusion, we cannot continue to pretend that unchecked immigration is a win/win for our nation. The overall health and well-being of our great nation depends on electing leaders who are courageous enough to look beyond the next election. Until we reform immigration, a host of other domestic public policy such as healthcare and education areas are doomed for failure.