Commentary Magazine


Obama to Tackle Immigration Debate (For Real This Time)

Yes, we’ve all heard this line before. But Obama’s poll numbers are plummeting with Latino voters, and he has Rep. Luis Gutierrez breathing down his neck, so the president has suddenly remembered the urgency of tackling the immigration debate. Or at the very least, he’s remembered the urgency of paying lip service to it:

Participants at a White House meeting with Obama on Tuesday reported he’s determined to keep the issue alive – and asked for help forging a bipartisan consensus behind reforming an immigration policy he often calls “broken.”

The guest list alone is enough to give you an idea of the seriousness of the meeting. It included Al Sharpton, Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a bishop, a handful of east- and west-coast lawmakers, former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly (conspicuously snubbed: anyone from the state of Arizona).

Also note that the meeting only lasted an hour, so Obama’s not even doing a good job pretending to care about this issue.

However, the administration promised afterward that the immigration debate will become a major priority for the president. “The president noted that he will continue to work to forge bipartisan consensus and will intensify efforts to lead a civil debate on this issue in the coming weeks and months,” read a White House statement.

Since Obama hasn’t announced any sort of immigration legislation, and Republicans in Congress would likely slap it down immediately if he did, it’s unclear exactly what “efforts” the president will be “intensifying” in the coming months. More likely Obama will continue to half-heartedly and intermittently bring up the issue until after the election.