Polls, including the exit polls from the 2014 Republican wave election, show that the public remains broadly supportive of comprehensive and legislated immigration reform. Voters of all political stripes want to see the nation’s immigration system work better; that means prioritizing skilled immigrants, reducing incentives to cross the border illegally, tightening border security, and overhauling a system which today serves to primarily reunite fragmented families.
Americans do not support President Barack Obama’s executive actions which are designed to create legal status for millions of illegal immigrants. Not only do the president’s actions fail to accomplish any of the reform-minded goals above, but they also do not enjoy the consent of the legislature. The most tenuous and contentious arguments made by opponents of Obama’s immigration, however, is the claim that extending legal status to millions of illegal immigrants is aimed at eventually creating a class of new Democratic voters.
This may be the claim that has frustrated supporters of Obama’s executive actions more than all others. Liberals correctly point out that Obama’s order has not extended citizenship or voting rights to eligible illegal immigrants. That is correct, but those liberals who are attempting to assuage the millions of Americans who are disturbed by this action might want to tell their allies in the activist community to tone it down a notch.
An enraging report published by The New York Times describes a recent scene in Los Angeles where hundreds of illegal immigrants crowded into a convention center to see if they were eligible to take advantage of Obama’s deferred deportations program. There, activists bombarded the prospective applicants with anti-Republican propaganda including an orientation slideshow which opened with “unflattering photographs” of Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and incoming House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The mask dropped when The Times spoke with one of the activist organizers:
Joshua Hoyt, the executive director of the National Partnership for New Americans, said groups gathered here were laying plans to sign up at least 500,000 immigrants for the president’s program. Advocates also appealed to immigrants here illegally who cannot vote to contact people who can.
“All those children are going to be voters,” Ms. Salas said, “and those voters are going to remember who stood with their dad and their mom.”
So, for immigration activists, it really is about creating millions of new Democratic voters… just not right away. This seems an especially shortsighted strategy for supporters of an already unpopular action like the president’s executive order to adopt. That overt partisanship will only further alienate those already predisposed to oppose this action and may turn those who were indifferent towards deferred deportations into vocal opponents.
At the very least, this kind of untoward and crass politicking on the issue of immigration reform should give Republicans in Congress more ammunition to use in their fight over the implementation of this order next year. At least, it should if they have the will to use it.