Michelle Obama Calls for Comprehensive Immigration Reform; GOP Unmoved16 Apr 2010
At the end of her trip to Mexico in mid-April, First Lady Michelle Obama added her voice to the chorus of Administration insiders who would like to see Comprehensive Immigration Reform back on the legislative agenda. Mrs. Obama told CNN’s Juan Carlos Lopez that both parties need to “be on the same page,” to make CIR happen, and that “we need Republicans and Democrats to support it as well.” (See Michelle Obama Call for U.S. to Lower Demand for Drugs from Mexico, 15.Apr.2010, CNN Politics.)
Mrs. Obama’s remarks came in the context of a visit with Mexico’s first lady, and a discussion of the rampant drug violence that has destabilized the U.S.-Mexico border region over the past several months. Unfortunately, violence on the border is precisely what may hold up CIR in the few months left before campaign season pushes all legislative efforts to the sidelines. As we noted in a recent posting (“Mixed Signals on Immigration Reform,” 14.Apr.2010.), violence along the border has the GOP sounding “abandon ship!” on CIR, its erstwhile supporters now convinced that no reform is possible in the face of what they see as lax border enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Arizona state legislature is taking immigration law into its own hands, passing a draconian bill that would make it a crime for undocumented immigrants simply to be in Arizona. Under the bill – expected to become law shortly – local police would be required to ask people about their immigration status if they have reason to suspect a person is illegal, the Washington Post reports. (See Arizona May Crack Down Hard on Illegal Immigrants, by Jonathan J. Cooper, Associated Press, in the Washington Post, 15.Apr.2010.) Advocates for civil liberties are deeply concerned about the impact of this legislation, if it becomes law, fearing it would elevate racial profiling to official state policy in Arizona. As the director of the Arizona ACLU told the Washington Post, “That is an unprecedented expansion of police power. It’s giving police officers a green light to harass anyone who looks or sounds foreign.” The other obvious problem is that immigration is a federal problem, one that needs to be fixed on a national level. A patchwork of state immigration laws would only serve to make a broken system even more dysfunctional, which is not only counterproductive, it’s just plain stupid. The sensible money is on comprehensive immigration reform, not fragmentary local measures.