This week, the President held another meeting with pro-immigration advocates where he proclaimed the need for immigration reform. Haven't we heard this time after time from the President? Running against the Republicans on this issue is a no brainer for the President. But what exactly is President Obama doing beyond giving speeches?
President Obama had both Houses of Congress in his first two years in office. Did he ever actually propose an immigration reform bill? No, he decided to let Congress sort it out for themselves rather than leading on the issue. And when he lost control of the House of Representatives, did he use the numerous executive powers at his disposal to address any of the failings in the current system? To date, he's not only done nothing in this regard, he's stated several times that the only way to address the problems in the immigration system is to wait on a paralyzed Congress to act. This is despite the numerous options spelled out for him by his own officials in a leaked memorandum.
Instead, he's ramped up immigration enforcement to levels greater than any President before him. He's enforcing a bar against same sex spouses being able to apply for immigration benefits despite his own Justice Department admitting the prohibition is unconstitutional. His immigration benefits agency USCIS has gotten progressively harsher and harsher in adjudicating work visa applications and green cards. He's deporting Haitians to a cholera-ridden country that is nowhere close to functioning normally since last year's devastating earthquake. And the list goes on and on.
Absent the speeches and the meetings, strictly judging by the ACTIONS of this Administration, this is arguably the most anti-immigrant White House we've seen in quite some time. Whether Latino voters and another pro-immigration constituencies support the President in 2012 fearing that the GOP candidate would be even worse is still an open question. But it does seem President Obama would do well to remember who delivered the 2008 election for him and who preserved the Democratic Senate. It's time to speak with your actions rather than delivering another eloquent speech.
Greg Siskind is a partner in Siskind Susser's Memphis, Tennessee, office. After graduating magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, he received his Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago. Mr. Siskind is a member of AILA, a board member of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and a member of the ABA, where he serves on the LPM Publishing Board as Marketing Vice Chairman. He is the author of several books, including the J Visa Guidebook and The Lawyer's Guide to Marketing on the Internet. Mr. Siskind practices all areas of immigration law, specializing in immigration matters of the health care and technology industries. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.