The Machiavellian Politics Of Immigration Reform

This speculation as to the Democrats’ game plan for working on immigration reform while simultaneously having some of them campaign against it indicates a really intriguing (and partially disingenuous, demagogic, and race-baiting) strategy:

The Democrats reason that, the politics of immigration being what they are, getting an actual bill through Congress by November is not likely. (Graham understands this, too.) What is likely is a bill that will allow Democrats who need to oppose immigration reform in theory because of its alleged “amnesty” provisions to do so — while allowing the party, behind the scenes, to whip up the Hispanic vote and communicate to Latinos that the promise of pushing reform is being fulfilled. They also anticipate that President Obama will take unilateral action to fix current problems — maybe he’ll send troops to the border, maybe he’ll ask the Department of Homeland Security to ease up on enforcement in the name of the economy. The House hasn’t done anything on immigration yet, and won’t do so until the Senate finishes. So House Democrats won’t need to worry about a tough vote.

Are they really planning to be this devious?  I understand politics requires some impossible choices and some deft political maneuvering, but if this is the Democrats’ actual thinking, this involves a relative few, and probably only a relative few, of the Democrats campaigning on the immigration issue in a clearly deceptive manner come the fall. 

Your Thoughts?

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • The Vicar

    It’s all empty posturing. All of it. Every bit of debate on immigration in the U.S.

    Why? Because the EXISTING laws are not enforced. It’s not because they would be impossible to enforce, or because they would be prohibitively expensive to enforce, but because nobody has an interest in enforcing them. If the law is not enforced anyway, it’s a waste of time to talk about reforming it.

    Career law enforcement people get no big boost out of nabbing illegal immigrants, which is a hassle; it’s much better for them to go after drug dealers or “terrorists” (both of which are good for assuring federal funding thanks to right-wing manipulations of the last three decades) or at least going after people whose crimes are big and obvious and directly dangerous to the public at large. Wealthy people don’t want the laws enforced — an awful lot of them got rich (and remain rich) through the employment of illegal immigrants. Non-wealthy people may claim to want the laws enforced, but a lot of the services which support their lives are only made possible by either taxing the rich heavily or having illegal labor, and we don’t tax the rich to any serious extent in the U.S. (Practically every outsourced municipal contract for physical labor, for example, ends up using illegal labor for the bulk of the operation. Usually, this is necessary to justify the outsourcing, because otherwise it would be impossible to undercut the cost of using part-time direct municipal employees at minimum wage while still turning a profit. Do the math, and you’ll discover that many municipal contracts cannot possibly be fulfilled legally even as not-for-profit enterprise, yet the companies tend to be highly profitable for those at the top.)

    Republican politicians don’t want to resolve the issue — they’d lose one of their major talking points. Democratic politicians don’t want to resolve the issue — it would involve taking a stand against the rich, plus they would either have to undo a lot of existing law (which looks bad) or else risk alienating the immigrant vote which is usually theirs.

    • Daniel Fincke

      Good points all, Vicar. Sums up much of my own thinking on the issue. It’s the one issue where I distrust both parties equally.