Nation of Immigrators
President Obama had a macho moment this week when he suggested, rhetorically, a poll of ghosts. "Ask Osama Bin Laden" and the "22 out of 30 top al-Qaeda leaders who've been taken off the field," he proposed, "whether I engage in appeasement." The storied bugaboo of foreign-policy appeasement, best typified by the flaccidity of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain in the face of Nazi aggression, was the GOP charge that the President debunked so handily.
The President probably won't ask the 80 or so U.S. citizens held illegally from a day to four years in just two immigration detention centers if he engages in appeasement. He'd probably also decline to float a survey of the statisticians who count border crossings, for they would say that illegal inbound migration is at its lowest in over four decades. The rhetorical flourish this time won't work because he knows these responders would surely say "yes" to the appeasement charge. No poll is necessary because he already knows the answer. He told us so last summer: "Maybe [the Republicans will] need a moat. (Laughter.) Maybe they want alligators in the moat. (Laughter.) They’ll never be satisfied. And I understand that. That’s politics."
Presidential swagger would be more impressive if he used his clout to circumvent GOP-erected gridlock in Congress. Imagine if he decided to eschew drones and troops and went low tech. Imagine if he looked back among the weapons of his and every American boy's childhood and pulled out his lowly pea shooter. Rather than appease, he could shoot peas -- fresh green orbs of power in the form of executive orders that he alone propels from the White House. No more appeasement but fusillades of executive (made-to-) order peas that would sprout the jobs he so desperately needs created pronto to save his presidency.
Some might argue that he's already begun the effort by authorizing ICE and USCIS to exercise prosecutorial discretion (PD) more frequently in favor of leniency for low level immigration violators. But that effort has yet to fire off enough salvos to hit the target. It would be better to accelerate PD reviews, expand them to include all the unauthorized among us rather than the current triage of only 300,000 deportation cases, begun as a timid six-week pilot project in Denver. Moreover, he should order the agencies to grant the formal status of "deferred action" (which includes the right to a work permit) rather than just PD (which merely prolongs the individual's agony by preventing them from progressing in their lives and pursuits, but only allowing them to wait to the unknown day when the grim deporter returns for them).
He could also aim his shots at the legal immigration system. Nothing but his own policy of GOP immigration-appeasement prevents him. He seems to understand the concept, as his "We Can't Wait" campaign addresses housing, student loans, energy efficiency and health care. There are gobs of jobs he could create if he turned his sights to tweaking the employment-based immigration laws, as I suggest in this post, "Executive Craftsmanship: Job Creation through Existing Immigration Laws," and video: