Obama was good at diagnosing the affliction. The system is broken. Check. Too many people find it difficult to migrate to the United States legally, and too many people still come illegally. Check. Those who come illegally lower wages for U.S. workers since employers exploit them. Check. We need a comprehensive approach that combines enforcement with earned legal status for illegal immigrants who are already here. Check.
But where he fell short was in not writing out a prescription. He could have announced that the White House was making immigration reform a top priority, and that his administration would be dispatching cabinet members — the secretaries of Labor, Commerce, and Homeland Security along with the attorney general — to go to Capitol Hill twice a week for the next six months and hammer out a bill. He could have set a timeline, or essential elements that any piece of legislation would need to have in order to win White House approval. He could have made clear what more his administration was prepared to do by way of securing the border to lay the groundwork for an honest discussion of immigration reform. He did none of that.
Obama is not fooling anyone. Latinos know which party controls both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, and they’ve lost patience with Obama trying to shift the blame for his failure to get anything done on the immigration reform front.
Look at the polls. Hispanics’ approval of President Barack Obama’s job performance slipped to 57% in May, after falling from 69% in January to 64% in February. By contrast, whites’ and blacks’ approval of the president remains fairly steady.
I’m not surprised. The Latinos I hear from say they feel teased and toyed with by the president, as if this is just a game to him while, to those who lack legal status, it’s serious business. So every time Obama reaffirms his promise to try to reassure Latino voters that he is still in their corner, it has the exact opposite effect. It reminds Latinos that they’re on their own and tells them that a president they helped elect by giving him two-thirds of their votes has forgotten all about them and one of their major agenda items.
Don’t be surprised if, by the time the 2012 election rolls around, most Latinos have forgotten all about him.