Thursday, November 24, 2016

Obama's Problematic Immigration Record

This post seems appropriate for Thanksgiving, a day characterized by an idealized view of immigration.

Franco Ordoñez has a good story about how President Obama failed a lot on immigration, to the point that Donald Trump inherits a deportation machine. Obama is the "deporter-in-chief," to a degree never seen in U.S. history (Snopes even felt obligated to confirm this!). Earlier this year I wrote about this in frustration and have blogged about it quite a bit. Over 400,000 people a year, including targeting kids (including here in Charlotte).

What makes me even more frustrated is Obama's failure to admit it. Trump hammered on him for months and months, and at any time Obama could've fessed up. "We're deporting record numbers of people" or "We've already put it 700 miles of fence."* But he didn't want to admit to it, and never has.

This makes no sense to me. He has three options:

1. Admit that he is aggressively pursuing undocumented immigrants and saying this is just following the law. This appeals to conservatives (or at least takes the wind out of the sails of criticism).
2. Reduce the number of deportations and say so, thus appealing to progressives and potentially energizing at least part of the Latino/a population.
3. Deport aggressively while pretending he's not, which makes everyone mad.

Obama chose #3. This means he contributed to Latino/a cynicism about the Democratic Party, doing terrible damage to many people's lives and hurting Hillary Clinton's campaign, while conservatives remained convinced he was soft and so felt more attracted to Trump.

DACA is an excellent policy based on common sense, and I give Obama credit for it. But we should not praise him for things he does not deserve.

*Though I am also aware that Trump said fences were useless during the campaign and now says they're part of his plan.


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