Debate Magazine

Obama Embraces Another Republican Plan With Immigration Reform

Posted on the 31 January 2013 by Reasoningpolitics @reasonpolitics


A recurring thread on this site is that Barack Obama, far from being a radical socialist, governs like a moderate (or Burkean) conservative. One of his first acts as President was to have dinner with prominent conservative columnists David Brooks, George Will, and Charles Krauthammer among others. His original cabinet consisted of more members of the opposite party than any administration in US history. His choice for his next Secretary of Defense is Republican Chuck Hagel. There is even a group that consists of prominent Obama-supporting conservatives, like Colin Powell, called the “ObamCons.”

Obamacare was based on Republican ideas, touted by the Heritage Foundation, was presented as an alternative to single payer, and was implemented first by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts. Cap and Trade is the market based alternative to heavy handed EPA regulations and had broad Republican support. Even The American Conservative has pointed out Obama’s foreign policy looks a whole lot like George W. Bush’s, while his domestic policy looks like Nixon’s.

Enter immigration reform. The deal that was reached by a bipartisan group of eight Senators now has the support of the White House. Jon Avlon points out that this deal looks a whole lot like the one that George W. Bush advocated, but failed to pass:

Take a look back at President Bush’s 2006 televised address to the nation onimmigration reform and read it alongsidePresident Obama’s Las Vegas take on the same subject this Tuesday. The style may be different, but the substance and sentiment are essentially the same.

In both cases, there are calls for increased border security paired with a temporary guest-worker program and requirements for businesses to e-verify their employees. There are increased visas, incentives for skilled immigration, and an eventual pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented workers in America. Above all, there is the commitment to the idea of America as a “nation of immigrants” and a sincere attempt to reconnect our functional reality to this animating aspiration.

Avlon also notes one last fact to boost Obama’s conservative credentials: that he has been more aggressive in his border enforcement and deportation enforcement policies than any Republican president, George W. Bush included:

But one final irony is worth noting. The current Gang of Eight plan learns the lesson of opposition to the 2007 proposal by front-loading border security before any progress toward a pathway to citizenship is made. The trigger mechanism and metrics for establishing this success are still unclear. But the fact is that border security dramatically increased during the Obama administration’s first term, with officials almost doubling the number of agents patrolling the border from what was in place when Bush made his speech to the nation. The walls have continued to be built, and criminal deportations have hit record highs. Combined with the effects of the Great Recession, which reduced demand for undocumented workers, the Obama administration has quietly accumulated a record of success on a front usually considered a conservative policy priority.

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