Obama Lays Out Immigration Plan: Is It Any Good?

Politics versus policy

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President Obama called for comprehensive immigration reform legislation in a speech on Thursday at American University in Washington, D.C. Obama mapped out several details of his wished-for plan to reform the "broken and dangerous" U.S. immigration policies. Here's what he said and how it's being received.

  • What Obama Said  The Washington Post's Michael Savage reports, "President Obama on Thursday acknowledged that a failure by Washington to address immigration has led to a system that is 'broken and dangerous,' as he attempted to make the case for comprehensive immigration reform. Speaking at American University, Obama conceded that pressure had grown over the issue because of what he said was Congress's reluctance to act. He backed a plan to give America's 11 million undocumented migrants a pathway to citizenship, together with measures to further secure the southwestern border. But he said reform would be impossible while the GOP blocked attempts."
  • Like Bush's Plan but Tougher  The Guardian's Michael Tomasky explains, "it's an interesting commentary on the state of the immigration debate that the new Obama plan is almost exactly the old Bush plan that nearly became law five years ago, before the volcanic eruptions from winguttia that gave the name 'amnesty' to a 12-year process (for illegals to become legals) that required substantial payments of back taxes and fines.If anything Obama's rhetoric along these lines is a little tougher than Bush's."
  • Pressuring Republicans  The Wall Street Journal's Laura Meckler writes, "The only way this can pass, [Obama] said, is if Republicans sign on. 'That is the political and mathematical reality,' he said. Mr. Obama singled out his 2008 presidential rival, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), who co-sponsored immigration legislation in 2006 and 2007 but has walked away from that stance in the course of battling a primary-election challenge from the right. 'Now, under the pressures of partisanship and election-year politics, many of the 11 [Republicans] who have voted for reform in past have backed away,' the president said."
  • No-Win Position for GOP  Politics Daily's Alex Wagner explains, "The issue has been particularly tricky for Republicans wanting to appear tough on national security, but likewise in need of Latino support (a group for whom immigration is a particularly hot-button issue). Support for tough, controversial measures like [Arizona Governor Jan] Brewer's hurts conservative candidates among this key voting bloc; the result is that many Republicans simply refuse to play ball."
  • This Was Just About Assuaging Activists  The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder evaluates the speech: "President Obama's speech today on immigration has a limited shelf life. It is mainly aimed at the advocacy community and is mostly about signs, signals, and sympathy. Obama wants immigration reform activists to know that Republicans are responsible for blocking progress, not him." He sighs, "Congress won't move on immigration; neither side wants a tough vote, but both sides seem to relish the base-rousing opportunity that hooting about immigration always brings."
  • More 'Open-Border' Heresy  Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey fumes, "Obama and his open-borders allies attempt to blur the difference between illegal and legal immigration.  Almost no one of consequence opposes the latter.  Everyone of the 'faith' of Americanism should insist on enforcing the laws against the former.  Unfortunately, this President — and many of those who have come before him — have proven rather faithless in this task."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.