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Obama’s Immigration Ploy
His executive order can disappear as quickly as it appeared.


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Thomas Sowell

President Obama’s latest political ploy — granting new “rights” out of thin air, by executive order, to illegal immigrants who claim that they were brought into the country when they were children — is all too typical of his short-run approach to the country’s long-run problems.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the Obama immigration policy, his executive order is good only as long as he remains president, which may be only a matter of months after this year’s election.

People cannot plan their lives on the basis of laws that can suddenly appear, and then suddenly disappear, in less than a year. To come forward today and claim the protection of the Obama executive order is to declare publicly and officially that your parents entered the country illegally. How that may be viewed by some later administration is anybody’s guess.

Employers likewise cannot rely on policies that may be here today and gone tomorrow, whether these are temporary tax rates designed to look good at election time or temporary immigration policies that can backfire later if employers get accused of hiring illegal immigrants.

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Why hire someone, and invest time and money in training him, if you may be forced to fire him before a year has passed?

Kicking the can down the road is a favorite exercise in Washington. But neither in the economy nor in their personal lives can people make plans and commitments on the basis of government policies that suddenly appear and suddenly disappear.

Like so many other Obama ploys, his immigration ploy is not meant to help the country, but to help Obama. This is all about getting the Hispanic vote this November.

The principle involved — keeping children from being hurt by actions over which they had no control — is one already advanced by Senator Marco Rubio, who may well end up as Governor Romney’s vice-presidential running mate. The Obama executive order, which suddenly popped up like a rabbit out of a magician’s hat, steals some of Senator Rubio’s thunder, so it is clever politics.

But clever politics is what has gotten this country into so much trouble, not only as regards immigration but also as regards the economy and the dangerous international situation.



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