Obama’s Immigration Speech: Reader Reax

Andrew Sullivan —  Nov 21 2014 @ 7:12am

One writes:

Watching Obama last night, I really felt that the quotation from scripture was the most powerful part of his speech.  For too long the GOP base has wanted to have it both ways on immigration and Christianity.  On the one hand, they consider themselves the true guardians of Christian orthodoxy and scriptural truth.  On the other hand, they’re all for the inhumane deportation of human beings and the splitting apart of families.  You simply can’t be a “Bible believing” Christian and support mass deportation.  A conservative interpretation of scripture doesn’t allow that.  I think Obama subtly drove that home with the quotation.

Of course, scripture itself cuts across conservative and liberal politics, which is why we shouldn’t base government policy exclusively on scripture.  But the Christianists have been living dangerously picking and choosing from scripture for a long time.  Last night, Obama reminded them that two can play that game and revealed the house of cards on which the entire Christianist position has been constructed.

How another puts it:

One president declares war on the wrong country, killing 100,000+, and he’s lauded. The next president allows American children to continue living with their parents and he’s the lawless one?

Wait, what are family values again?

And another questions the party’s supposed conservatism:

Can you imagine anyone shutting down the government or impeaching a president over such a limited, reasonable, small-c conservative plan as Obama announced last night?

Funny, I don’t seem to remember the federal government shutting down even at wrenching national moments like when President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas national guard to protect (and enforce) African-American kids being allowed to desegregate public schools.  Yet, this is going to “poison the well” and blow up governing for (another) two years?  Please.

Voters and the press have to stop giving Republicans a free pass on nihilism.  While complaining about violating “political norms,” Ross Douthat and David Brooks are defending a new, dangerous norm: that  Republicans can secede, nullify, and sabotage as a routine political tool.

Another is also sick of the GOP:

Reince Prebus said after the Republican victory that they would only consider immigration after signing a border security bill (i.e. “Immigration is dead until we remove all incentives for our party to pass it”). And remember, after the 2012 elections, it was considered an inevitable fact that Republicans had the move on immigration, and they didn’t. Now they feel none of the pressure they did after the 2012 loss and we’re supposed to think that there is a greater than 0 chance they’ll do it?

This is why I ultimately support Obama’s action. We’ve delayed and delayed and delayed, and I think everything you’ve said about why he should wait a bit more will be just as true when the six-month period you favor ends. As a result, I see no political benefit to waiting. Do it now because it’s the right thing to do and let Congress decide when it wants to do its job again.

Another adds a lot of context:

Your question of “how many immigrants will Obama let stay,” or “allow to stay,” perpetuates an important misconception in this debate.  As Greg Sargent helpfully explains, Obama is not proposing to deport less people, and the same number (roughly 400,000) will continue to be deported, with or without executive action. Why?  Because Congress only appropriates enough money to deport that number, or roughly 3.5% of the approximate 12 million undocumented aliens.   As there is an existing, bipartisan agreement that some 96.5% of the undocumented population will be allowed to remain here (i.e., the “how many” question), Obama’s executive action asks only: which undocumented immigrants should populate the 400,000 who are deported?

That is a crucial distinction.  The question is not whether Obama should increase the number of undocumented immigrants (he isn’t), but whether he should apply severely limited resources in a targeted fashion (e.g., new arrivals, criminals, etc.) or indiscriminately (e.g., a law abiding mother of a U.S. citizen-child)?  And, is Obama plausibly “tearing up the Constitution” if he deports the only number of people he can (about 400,000), but prioritizes who should be deported within such Congressionally imposed constraints?

Notably, Republicans are not proposing to increase such spending/deportations. Characteristically, they are threatening only to further defund the government.  Aside from raw politics, the Republican position is largely: (i) don’t inform our base that we agree that less than 1 out of 10 undocumented immigrants should be deported, (ii) apply the meager 3% budget indiscriminately to terrorize the wider immigrant population, and (iii) most of all, don’t do anything that would remove the pejorative, crippling “illegal” designation from this disadvantaged labor supply.

One more reader “shares a personal anecdote related to the president’s looming executive action”:

Nearly 10 years ago, my aunt and uncle left behind a comfortable, middle-class life in Mexico after receiving death threats from a drug cartel. My aunt months pregnant, they respectively abandoned a successful small business and a professional career to seek refuge in the U.S. from a drug war that has claimed the lives of at least 85,000 people. (A war, I should add, fueled by American drug consumption habits and lax gun restrictions.) They’ve lived here without legal status since.

I’m couldn’t be happier for them, their daughter, and millions of others expected to benefit from the executive action. And I’m grateful for a president who has concluded that we are neither safer nor more prosperous tearing families apart, relegating productive members of society to lives of constant fear and abuse.