Jewish World Review May 19, 2011 15 Iyar, 5771
Alligators, Moats and Other Such Nonsense
By Victor Davis Hanson
President Obama gave what was billed as an important speech on immigration last week near the border in
Why, 28 months into the Obama presidency, is there now a sudden push to pass "comprehensive" immigration reform? After all, from 2009 to early 2011, Obama had large Democratic majorities in both the House and
The answer, of course, is that about 70 percent of the American people consistently poll against the president's initiatives on illegal immigration. Obama simply did not want to sign an easily passable bill that would earn him further unpopularity.
But now he has lost the House. A close re-election bid looms. The president is enjoying a sudden bounce in popularity after the capture of
Obama's demagoguery seemed to work on the crowd in
In blaming Republicans, Obama charged that their fears about open borders were groundless since, "The fence is now basically complete." And to emphasize that claim, he mocked his opponents by saying, "Maybe they'll need a moat. Maybe they'll need alligators in the moat."
That sounds cute. But it is again quite untrue. The fence is most assuredly not "basically" complete. Currently, fewer than 700 miles of the more than 1,900-mile border have any sort of barrier. And less than 5 percent of the border has a secure double-fenced impediment. Even with increased patrols, a recent
In a fit of projection, the president also accused his opponents of politicking the issue for partisan advantage: "We've seen a lot of blame and a lot of politics and a lot of ugly rhetoric around immigration."
That too was a distortion for at least two reasons. One, during the 2010 midterm election, the president himself urged Latinos to "punish" their political "enemies." That advice sure seemed like "ugly rhetoric."
And in the
The president also deliberately confused legal and illegal immigration in lamenting the inability of highly skilled immigrants to obtain work visas and citizenship opportunities. But polls show wide support for legal immigration based on skill sets, not just on proximity to the border or family ties.
What the president did not dare reveal was that to let in professionals and business people from around the world, based on their skills and earning potential, might also mean to curtail those without education and capital -- in other words, to discourage the millions of illegal immigrants from
Even when the president offered some sensible proposals about illegal aliens paying fines, applying formally for citizenship and learning English, he was still disingenuous. Obama deliberately floated these proposals to his partisan audience without any details of enforcement, since to do so would likely turn off the cheering crowd.
So how exactly would Obama coerce some 11 million illegal aliens into paying a fine, returning to the immigration line to apply legally, or learning English? By threat of deportation or incarceration?
The vast majority of the American public is not racist or "playing politics" in worrying about out-of-control illegal immigration. The enforcement of existing federal immigration law has become a joke. Drug violence in
These are serious issues that deserve more from a president than re-election pandering at the border and bad jokes about alligators and moats.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2011, TMS