Reuters reported Friday that, President Obama “expects Congress to overhaul the country’s immigration system…”early next year.” Speaking to Hispanic reporters at the White House, Obama said he hopes a bill for comprehensive immigration reform will be drafted by the end of this year.” He has tasked Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano with working with Congress to draft the bill. This is a prescription for disaster…and here is why.
First, the bill adopts the same tried and failed strategy trotted out by the Bush administration, starting with massive amnesty and then loaded down with a bunch of provisions to buy-off as many constituent groups as possible. It is impossible to imagine how such a bill could get through Congress. If anything, the politics of immigration have become more divisive since the recession kicked in.
Second, tasking the Homeland Security Secretary to “take the lead” is a tragic mistake (mimicking another failed Bush strategy). Secretary Napolitano just gave a great speech last week trumpeting the importance of the department’s role as the steward of the national security enterprise. But it will be impossible for her to exercise leadership if people perceive the department as being used for “partisan” purposes…and immigration reform is a political minefield. There are already plenty of signs of problems. Although she has touted the new administration’s policies as “smart and tough” enforcement, on close examination they appear to be anything but. As I wrote in the DC Examiner last week, that’s a problem “if Americans don’t feel confident their government will enforce the law, they won’t be interested in immigration ‘reform.” In taking the lead on writing legislation, Napolitano will be distracted, attacked for partisanship, and likely be no more successful in crafting a compromise than Chertoff.
A quote attributed to Albert Einstein goes, “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Practicing immigration reform insanity is a tragedy. America needs to jump start its economy. Part of the answer is getting employers the legal work force they need, so that they can grow their businesses–which in turn will grow more jobs, the high-paying rewarding jobs Americans want. Rather than pave the way for serious immigration reform, the White House seems to be playing politics with the issue.