Tonight, President Obama will make an announcement on immigration. Early indications include a delay in deportations for up to 5 million. This comes after a bruising mid-term election where many pundits claim that inaction on immigration discouraged Latinos from voting.
To hear mass media tell it our lines are drawn into two camps: Those that favor a looser immigration and those that wants more restriction. These portrayals get flavored by things like a large wall, suffering children, drug violence, and day laborers. One side is portrayed as mean, the other as sympathetic.
Obviously, the immigration debate evokes a lot of emotion. Tonight’s decision will bring an emotional response across the political spectrum, but ultimately it will be political calculus that drives what the President says. By “political” its not rooted in “policy” but in election math and trying to keep Latinos voting Democrat in 2016. It’s because of this short term thinking on immigration as a way to score votes that makes our immigration policy a mess. This mess then creates frustration and heated emotional debates every election.
To end the mess, we don’t just need a reform on rules or more visas. Those are just incremental fixes without addressing the issue. What we need is a debate on national policy. National policy should be rooted in a strategy taking us from point A to point B. But no where is it described where America wants to go with immigration. Is our goal to re-unite families? Are we to be the place where those that suffer come? Is immigration how we plan to fill needed positions in a variety of economic sectors? Are we to be more culturally diverse or less? How do these make America stronger, safer, or freer?
What do you think our country’s immigration policy should be? Why would this make America better? What will it look like, how long will it take, and what cost?
Elliot Schroeder is chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of San Diego.