Political Animal


December 01, 2012 10:00 AM Your Move, Mr. President

By Jesse Singal

There’s a good rundown in the Times of how young activists in the immigration reform movement—many of them undocumented immigrants themselves—helped get President Obama re-elected:

Now, movement leaders say, it is payback time. When Congress last debated broad reform, in 2007, populist energy was on the side of those opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants. Angry resistance from Republicans defeated a legalization proposal by President George W. Bush.
This time the young immigrants are the rising force, and they seek legislation to give them a direct and permanent path to citizenship. But recalling that Mr. Obama also promised at the start of his first term to move swiftly on immigration overhaul, they say their attitude toward him is wait-and-see.

In many cases, the organizing these folks did took considerably bravery, given how risky it is to travel or congregate when one lacks legal status as a citizen.

As a quick aside, I’ve always thought that some of the more strident members of the anti-immigration did untold damage to their group by failing to exhibit any nuance on the question of young undocumented immigrants who came here as infants or children. If I’m the hypothetical median American voter, the second you tell me that we should be deporting a 25-year-old whose parents took her here when she was 3, I am going to tune you out and go check Facebook or something. And the next time one of your allies comes to me complaining about “amnesty” or whatever, I’ll be less likely to listen.

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.


  • Virgil Bierschwale on December 01, 2012 10:21 AM:

    Amen, but at the same time we need to find a way to provide a future for citizens and immigrants and quit pitting one against the other.


  • c u n d gulag on December 01, 2012 10:26 AM:

    Sadly, the voters didn't see fit to give the Democrats 60+ Senate members and control of the House.

    And now, for permanent change, we still need the Nativist Know-Nothing's known as the Republicans in both Houses to come to some sort of semblence of their senses.

    Don't hold your breath.
    That's how they hope to get rid of us Liberals.
    If they can't choke us to death, our self-asphyxiation is their next best hope.

  • Celui on December 01, 2012 10:51 AM:

    Once again, the 'Americans' who are complaining about immigration issues are so damned short-sighted and know absolutely nothing about their own immigrant history. So, how many of those white guys are 'protecting' the country against the very types of immigrants who were their own forebears? My guess (wait now for the drumroll: ALL of them!) We are a nation of immigrants which prides itself on educating young people to their max, and then we make it nigh unto impossible for these very bright young people to remain in this country and make use of their talents. Exclusionary policies are, once again, a not-so-thinly veiled racism, and they do more harm to the whole populace than the perpetrators can imagine. And, just one more point: divisionary political activities continue to separate us, continue to set us at each other's throat, and in the long run, ruin the future of the nation. American interests cannot continue to be well-served if we remain well-armed exclusionary wall-builders. Get on with real immigration policies that benefit the nation, not 'protect' some racist ideology.

  • john sherman on December 01, 2012 11:02 AM:

    It's hard to get very mad at someone for coming to this country to work really hard for inadequate pay.

  • martin on December 01, 2012 11:07 AM:

    Following on John S, maybe the Dems should just label the exportation crowd as the Food Taxers, given how heavily our cheap food system depends on undocumented labor. Surely a think tank somewhere has figured out how much more our food would cost at every level if "real" Americans were to do the work.

  • jimjinphx on December 01, 2012 11:42 AM:

    Living in Phoenix, I assure you it is not *immigrants* that bother the wingnuts here, it is Mexicans, pure and simple.

    The President should introduce the original comprehensive plan from a few years ago by Senators Kennedy and (Get-Off-My-Lawn) McCain, word for word, with only appropriate changes for dates and such. Of course, the bigots will trash it but the only way to eventually raise the disgust levels to do away with this racism is constantly put it on display.

  • James on December 01, 2012 12:07 PM:

    Living in Southern California, I assure you that @jimjinphx is almost entirely correct. Except there is an element of hatred against Chinese and other Asian (Indian primarily) computer programmers, and Filipino health care workers, particularly registered nurses. That's about jobs, though, not the same outright bigotry against Mexicans. The wingnuts do not want *those* jobs.

    It's the nurses and programmers that the Republicans want.

  • emjayay on December 01, 2012 7:53 PM:

    "organizing these folks did took considerably bravery,"

    Yikes. Writing? Editing anyone?

  • zandru on December 02, 2012 1:37 PM:

    "Foreign nationals got President Obama re-elected."

    Is this really the message the left needs to be seen as promoting?

  • HMDK on December 03, 2012 9:24 AM:

    "Is this really the message the left needs to be seen as promoting?"

    No... but thank you for your lack of either reading comprehension or will to do the right thing.