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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Republican's ACHIEVE Act: a meaningful solution or more tone deaf drivel from the right?

I'll save you some suspense.  The answer is: more tone deaf drivel from the right.  Let's recap, how we got to this point.  Part of President Obama's 2008 victory was due in part to the changing demographics of America and particularly the emergence of the Latino vote.  Immigration is a major, if not the major issue for Latino voters and giving the Republicans recent history of blocking comprehensive immigration reform in 2006 and 2007, it was no surprise that Latino voters backed Obama over McCain by 67% to 31%.  Then in the mid term elections of 2010, Nevada Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat Majority Leader, facing daunting negative approval ratings in his reelection bid, energized and mobilized the Latino community in Las Vegas, who turned out and supported Reid over his Republican rival Sharron Angle 90%-8%.  The Latino vote in Nevada in 2010 was 12% of the total, making the difference in a race which many believed could not be won by Reid.  Ms. Angle, universally considered a right wing asshat, did herself no favors by portraying immigrants as thugs sneaking through a fence with ski masks over the faces coming in to rape our children and steal our stuff. 

As the nation braced for the 2012 presidential election, there was much speculation of what price Obama was going to pay for not fulfilling his promise to get immigration reform through a deadlocked Congress.  But as the Republicans began the often hilarious process of selecting their candidate, it became clear that meaningful and progressive immigration reform was on nobody's agenda.  (Read my September 23, 2011 posting below).  Poor Rick Perry was almost tarred and feathered for supporting a Texas provision to allow DREAMers to attend college in Texas and pay resident tuition.  Clearly the Republicans thought the country wanted a leader that was not only well groomed, but one who would create a climate so hostile in America that undocumented immigrants would simply give up and "self deport".  To give credit where credit was due, "self deportation" was Romney's brainchild--along with proclaiming the illegal Arizona "papers please" law "model legislation" and hired its fanatical author (Kurt Kobach) as his chief immigration consultant.   By the time Romney secured the Republican nomination, he tacked so far to the right that even some of his own supporters feared he would fall off the edge of the earth.  Then, in June of 2012, Obama announced his administration's policy to grant deferred action to DREAMers--a move clearly designed to shore up Latino support, and immigrant communities all over America celebrated.

So then came November and the elections.  The results were surprising to almost no one except Republican strategists.  Obama increased his 2008 advantage over his opponent among Latino voters 72%-23% .  In Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Mexico and Virginia--all states won by Obama--he increased his numbers over 2008 substantially.  Overall, the Latino vote grew from 9% to 10% of the national total.  In the hand wringing and finger pointing that has ensued since the election it is clear that many Republican leaders and strategists, including John Boehner, Haley Barbour, Fox News gasbag Sean Hannity and even the increasingly irrelevant Donald Trump have “evolved” their positions and voiced support for a pathway to citizenship—or at least some sort of legal status. Sen. John McCain, who backtracked on his 2006 and 2007 leadership on the topic to run for president in 2008 now agrees with calls for comprehensive reform.

Then yesterday, retiring Senators Kyl and Hutchinson convened a press conference to give us all our first post election peek at the GOP's newly retooled thinking on immigration reform and by extension, the Latino vote.  After a day to digest the bill, dubbed the ACHIEVE Act, it is clear that Republicans have learned absolutely nothing from the election.   The measure, which is essentially a watered down version of the DREAM Act, would requires applicants to apply for three different visa programs over several years and does not include a clear path to citizenship for the DREAMers.  According to Ms. Hutchinson,  “it doesn’t allow them to cut in line in front of people who have come and abided by the rules of our laws today, it doesn’t keep them from applying under the rules today, but it doesn’t give them a special preference.”  It is worth noting that the key provisions of both the DREAM Act and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals are predicated on the notion that the DREAMers were brought into the U.S. as children, and are innocent of any wrongdoing.  Senator Kyl, however, stole the headlines of the day by indicating that DREAMers should just marry American citizens, which he said many undocumented immigrants could be likely to do because they're young and "in this country, the biggest marriage pool are U.S. citizens."  Incidentally, it is a federal crime to marry for the purpose of gaining an immigration benefit.

To sum it all up:  Republicans failed to defeat a President who presided over four years of economic malaise, didn't grasp that voting Americas are not just rich white men, got defeated in no small measure because of their own anti-immigration policies, and then with the stark post election numbers staring them right in the face, this ACHIEVE Act is the best they can come up with?   Truly, it makes one wonder whether or not the Republicans even want to be in the conversation going forward, let alone the White House. 
in Colorado, Obama won Latino voters by 87 percent-10 percent margin; in New Mexico, by a 77 percent-21 percent margin; in Nevada, by an 80 percent-17 percent margin; in Ohio, by an 82 percent-17 percent margin; in Virginia, by a 66 percent-31 percent margin; and in Florida, by a 58 percent-40 percent margin.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/06/election-2012-obama-wins-re-election-after-clinching-ohio/#ixzz2DXkJdDCU
The Latino Decisions polls indicate that nationwide and in battleground states Obama won Latino voter support over Romney by historic margins –  72 percent to 23 percent nationwide, including: in Colorado, Obama won Latino voters by 87 percent-10 percent margin; in New Mexico, by a 77 percent-21 percent margin; in Nevada, by an 80 percent-17 percent margin; in Ohio, by an 82 percent-17 percent margin; in Virginia, by a 66 percent-31 percent margin; and in Florida, by a 58 percent-40 percent margin.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/06/election-2012-obama-wins-re-election-after-clinching-ohio/#ixzz2DXiwPh8Y
The Latino Decisions polls indicate that nationwide and in battleground states Obama won Latino voter support over Romney by historic margins –  72 percent to 23 percent nationwide, including: in Colorado, Obama won Latino voters by 87 percent-10 percent margin; in New Mexico, by a 77 percent-21 percent margin; in Nevada, by an 80 percent-17 percent margin; in Ohio, by an 82 percent-17 percent margin; in Virginia, by a 66 percent-31 percent margin; and in Florida, by a 58 percent-40 percent margin.

Read more: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/politics/2012/11/06/election-2012-obama-wins-re-election-after-clinching-ohio/#ixzz2DXiwPh8



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Do I need an attorney to help me file for Deferred Action under President Obama's June 15, 2012 announcement?

(Updated 3:00 p.m. pst.  Thanks to the ever watchful eye of Mo Goldman who spotted a couple of factual errors.  Thanks Mo and keep up the good fight!)

The simple answer is Yes!  The more complicated reason is: why?

On June 15, 2012 President Obama made his historic announcement that certain young people who came to the U.S. (generally referred to as" DREAMers") can apply for deferred action for a 2 year period and obtain legal work authorization.  To qualify the applicant must:
  1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
  3. Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Not be above the age of thirty.

Following the announcement, there was a great deal of speculation and confusion about what the application would look like, how difficult or complex it will be to complete, and whether or not an applicant would need legal representation to successfully apply.  These questions proved impossible to answer as very little information was provided by the Department of Homeland Security, who merely indicated that they would begin processing applications on August 15, 2012.  The lack of information, however, didn't stop enterprising individuals--both attorneys and non-attorneys-- from advertising to potential applicants and even to accept money to prepare forms that didn't even exist, making claims about "the new law", "being first in line", etc.  The sensible and prudent attorney was advising potential applicants to hold off until more details emerged and counseled them to begin to assemble the paperwork that would support their eligibility. 

However, in recent days more information is beginning to come to the surface and with only a couple of weeks until the August 15th date, things are getting a little clearer. 

Filing process.  While the actual Form itself is not yet published, the information necessary to complete the form can be deduced from the initial June 15th memo.  Examples of these documents can be found at our sister site: www.dhsdeferredaction.com.  There already exist several forms that ask for the information, including the G-325, I-821, and the I-765.  However, since the application would seem to be more document driven than simply information driven, it seems certain that any application would must include a significant amount of documentary evidence.  According to a USCIS source, the applications would be sent to a central lockbox (likely Phoenix or Chicago) before being routed to a USCIS service center.  It is estimated that between 800,000 and 1.4 million (and growing) applications will be filed.  It would take 2-3 months for receipt notices to be generated and biometric notices would following in another 1-2 months.  After that, the processing time for the DA form would be anybody's guess and interviews may be scheduled in the local district office if further information becomes necessary (particular criminal issues).  Following that the employment authorization would be processed.  According to the USCIS source, it is likely that RFE's (requests for evidence) would be issued in most cases.   It is important to understand that if a case is denied, THERE IS NO APPEAL!!!

Filing fees.  In keeping with DHS policy that the costs of the application process be covered by the filing fees so as not to burden U.S. taxpayers, fees will be charged.  The biometrics fee is currently $85.  The employment authorization fee is $380.  Speculation is that because there is insufficient time to conduct a fee impact study there will be no further intial fee beyond the $465.  A story in U.S. News and World Report (http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2012/07/24/dhs-deportation-proposal-could-cost-585-million) cites an internal DHS document that mentions a $465 paperwork fee, so it's looking more and more like the fee would be $465.

Use of documents for enforcement purposes.  Here is a potential problem.  This program has been identified as a DHS program, not a USCIS or ICE program.  In a recent stakeholder meeting one USCIS official indicated that any information filed under this program becomes DHS property.  This is unlike the Legalization program of the 1980's where there were specific shields in place to protect against using the information for enforcement.  This is clearly not the case here!  An example of how this could become a problem is as simple as an applicant indicating that they worked with a social security number (which may have even been their own).  On inquiry the person discloses that they told their employer in the I-9 process that they were a U.S. citizen, or provided someone else's U.S. birth certificate.  Under current law, the immigration consequences could be catastrophic.  Of possibly more concern is disclosing the immigration status and identifying information including addresses of parents.  It is certain that they CAN use this information, it is unclear if they would, or under what circumstances.  Conceivable if there are outstanding removal orders it may be of more interest to ICE.

The need for an attorney.  It is the practice of this attorney and most ethical ones that I am familiar with to charge for consultations.  That is because then we can use that time to honestly and objectively advise a client as to their particular problem without having to worry about how we can pay our own obligations at the end of the day.  I have always believed that a lawyer who provides free consultation either has a large trust fund behind him/her or will use that time to explain why the potential client needs their services (whether they really do or not).  I will frequently tell people that their case is straightforward enough that if everything they have told me is the complete truth, they probably won't need an attorney because after having represented thousands of clients over 25 years, I have a pretty good idea what makes a clean case.

One factor I consider in advising whether or not a client can self-represent is how difficult it is to correct a later problem.  Because in most applications there is an appeal process, many if not most problems can be fixed. Because in these cases, there will be no appeal mechanism, the application must be as complete and correct as possible.  Yet the application should be careful not to reveal too much information that later may be used in enforcement efforts.

In additional to some complex filing procedures mentioned above, there is still so much to be decided, including what exactly will constitute a "significant misdemeanor offense" or a "threat to national security or public safety" (which will make an applicant ineligible for deferred action), applicants need to have any criminal activity carefully reviewed in light of current immigration laws and standards, not some vague community standard or someone's reasonable hunch. The Department of Homeland Security is notorious for their expansive definitions of criminal behavior, including recently finding that tattoos make a person a threat to public safety because they may look like gang tattoos.

No one, and I mean no one, can say what will happen to this program in the future.  DHS has repeatedly said that deferred action is not a "benefit" meaning to me that even if an individual has been granted deferred action, they could still take it away during or after the two years.   DHS refuses to indicate whether or not a denied or expired applicant will be placed into removal proceedings, instead they simply refer to a series of confusing and self-conflicting memoranda on prosecutorial discretion which even they privately admit is open to wide interpretation.  

One thing is certain:  the information provided incident to this application will be digitalized and then becomes available not only to USCIS, but also to ICE and CBP.  Whatever a person tells DHS will be used for whatever purposes they deem proper, including enforcement. This warning is not meant to discourage applicants from applying, but rather to exercise extreme caution in providing evidence and information.  Extreme caution is not exercised by guessing, or by consulting a notario, a personal injury attorney, a family friend, a consulate, or even a community activist.  It is not enough to be well-intended!

The future well being of an applicant and possibly that of his family necessitates that the applicant consult with and retain the services of an experienced immigration attorney.  It should happen now, even before the August 15th acceptance date because there will be a rush of filing and the later a case gets filed, the later it will be adjudicated.  Attorneys will tend to charge whatever the market will bear.  Some attorneys are charging hourly rates, others are charging a minimum initial retainer to consult with and assemble documents with the understanding that more money may be required later, depending on what the final process looks like, or if there is an interview.  Still others are quoting flat fees for the entire process (which is difficult if you don't know what that process is).  Lawyers (unlike notarios or immigration consultants) in most jurisdictions are subject to regulation and cannot charge more than can be justified by the time and complexity involved in the case.

In closing, in this author's opinion, an applicant should quickly obtain the services of a competent, experienced attorney.  At a minimum, the attorney should be a member of AILA (the American Immigration Lawyers Association), and should be open about the length of time in immigration practice and the numbers of cases they have processed.  Services such as www.AVVO.com can be helpful tools, but like everything else in life, look before you leap.  Google the attorney and find out as much as you can.  But in the end and applicant will not be sorry if they get representation to help with this important step in their life.  Good luck.





Monday, June 18, 2012

Prosecutorial Discretion for DREAMers

On June 15, 2012 the Department of Homeland Security formally announced that it will offer deferred action to "DREAMers." For all the promising undocumented youth who call America home this represents the opportunity to come out of the shadows and fully embrace the only country they know. We applaud this bold action to provide relief and enable these young people to actively contribute to our society and economy.

Eligible individuals must:
  • Be 15-30 years old, and have entered before age 16
  • Have been present in the U.S. for 5 years as of June 15, 2012
  • Have maintained continuous residence
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or multiple minor misdemeanors or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
  • Be currently in school, graduated or have a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran
  • The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, as well as to those who apply affirmatively.
 Please note that requests for prosecutorial discretion are not yet being accepted.  Stay tuned for further details.

UPDATE from June 18 stakeholder's call from USCIS Director Mayorkis:  

Prosecutorial discretion is a discretionary determination to defer action against an individual.  Does not confer lawful status upon an individual.  Person granted would not be accruing unlawful presence and a positive grant does not excuse other periods of unlawful presence. 

Individuals who receive deferred action will be eligible for employment authorization.

Period will be for two years, subject to renewal.  When a person seeks renewal, individuals will also need to reapply for an extension of their employment authorization. 

Records that will establish eligibility include financial, school, employment, financial or military records and will be useful to prove the individual came to the U.S. prior to age 16 and that the individual has resided here for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012. 

Individuals seeking to use false or fraudulent documents will be prosecuted.

If the request is denied, DHS will not automatically be issuing Notices to Appear, but will follow existing policy regarding priorities.

There will be no appeals process from a denied request for deferred action.

Does not apply to dependants and other immediate relatives.

Travel outside of the United States during the period of deferred action is not yet clear.  






Friday, November 18, 2011

The Utah Compact, One Year Later




Recently in Salt Lake City, Utah a diverse group of government and business leaders held a press conference to commemorate the one year anniversary of the Utah Compact.  The compact was the result of a collaboration of business, religious and elected leaders in Utah to articulate a broad statement of shared values designed to guide decision makers "as they address the complex challenges associated with a broken national immigration system".

What is significant about the Compact is that Utah has a legacy as one of the most conservative states in America and in recent years turned out incumbent Senator Bennett and Congressman Cannon for being "soft" on immigration.  Yet the Compact resonates with a pragmatic tone that sounds nostalgically Reganesque in its lofty aspirations of keeping families together and acknowledging the economic contributions of immigrants.  It acknowledges that immigration is a federal, not state, issue and that "local law enforcement resources should focus on criminal activities, not civil violations of federal code".  The Compact concludes with "[t]he way we treat immigrants will say more about us as a free society and less about our immigrant neighbors. Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of goodwill".   The full text of the Utah Compact is available at http://www.utahcompact.com.

One year after the Compact was written it is being credited for changing the tone of the immigration debate not only in Utah, but in the entire country.  At the press conference was recently elected Arizona State Senator Jerry Lewis, who ousted S.B. 1070 architect and restrictionist poster child, Russell Pearce.   Senator Lewis credited the Utah Compact with having an impact on Arizona politics, including his election over fellow conservative Republican Pearce, and cited an Arizona poll with 78% support comprehensive solutions of immigration laws, not just the "enforcement only" policies of S.B. 1070.  Utah's Attorney General, Mark Shurtleff, a self described conservative Republican, indicated that in past year the Compact has received the support of conservatives who want real solutions and not just harsh rhetoric.  He pointed to the election of Lewis as an example, and warned against pandering to the far right extremists.

So as we watch our current crop of presidential candidates talk about electrical fences and boots on the ground, and as Alabama's agricultural bounty spoils unpicked in the field, a new voice is being heard.  It appeals to all political views because its values are apolitical and universal.  It is a growing voice that speaks of moderation, and inclusion and reminds us of our heritage as a nation of immigrants.    It is a voice that is coming from, of all places, Utah.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New Report Shows Current U.S. Immigration Policy Hurts Our Economy

Today the Immigration Policy Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank published a eye-opening report on how our failed immigration policy is adversely impacting our economy and global competitiveness.  I have been writing in previous blogs about my observations and personal experience on this topic, but here is some real empirical and unbiased data on how critical the situation is.  The full report is available here.

Among the key findings are that while the world has changed, our approach to immigration has not.  For example, changing demographics in the U.S. has created a demand in lesser skilled jobs in the construction hospitality industry but current quotas allow for only 5,000 visas annually for these workers.  The report concludes, "The inflexible and insufficient number of green cards available for these types of jobs is at the heart of the unauthorized immigration problem."  Similarly, for skilled workers, including advanced degree graduates of our institutions of higher learning and research, the confusing and conflicting maze of laws and regulations have meant that less than 10% of foreign students from India and China (ie our competition) are planning to stay in the U.S. and look for work after graduation.  More sobering than that is the idea that many of our chief global economic competitors are offering enticements to immigrate rather than creating barriers:

Some immigrant‐sending countries are implementing policies to persuade their own best and brightest to remain in the country while also attracting those from other nations.  In 2009, immigrants from India and China comprised 22% of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who entered the U.S. through the employment‐based system.  But in the last 15 years, China has successfully encouraged more than 4,000 Chinese researchers to return to China. In January 2009, China launched the One‐Thousand‐Talents Program to attract Chinese and other “high caliber” researchers to China. India has developed similar programs to attract highly skilled scientists and researchers.  Even Japan, which has been resistant to immigration in the past, has announced plans to increase the number of foreign‐born students to 300,000 by 2020. They also plan to simplify the immigration process, hire more English‐language teachers, and help foreign students find jobs within the country.

Foreign entrepreneurs are also finding our antiquated immigration laws a barrier for their businesses.  A recent study from the Kaufman Foundation cited in the IPC report interviewed nearly 300 highly skilled and educated returnees to China and India and found that our immigration policies were part of the reasonRecently a much publicized case illustrated this point.  A Israeli citizen and Stanford business school graduate who created CruiseWise.com, hired nine U.S. employees and then was denied a visa.  After the story broke and amid a flood of criticism, immigration reversed their position, but one has to wonder how many other entrepreneurs have been driven away by unwelcoming policies and overly restrictive adjudication.  It is worth noting that historically over one-half of the start up companies in Silicon Valley were created by immigrants, including Google, Intel, Yahoo and eBay!

The IPC report also makes another good point about the U.S. aging demographics.  As baby boomers retire and take their skills with them, immigrants will be able to fill the void and keep our social security system solvent into the future.  Citing a 2007 study from the Peterson Institute of International Economics, the report finds that "the skill levels of U.S. workers are stagnating relative to the rest of the world. As a result, “when American baby boomers retire, they will take as many skills with them as their children will bring into the U.S. workforce.”  In order to overcome these challenges, the United States will not only have to implement new educational policies to produce more high‐skilled Americans, but also “reform its high‐skilled immigration policies and procedures not only to welcome the best and the brightest but also to make it easier for them to stay.

Much more could be said about the report: the role immigrants play in revitalizing some of our bleakest urban areas, the disproportionate amount of patents issued to innovative immigrants, immigrant homebuyers helping to end the housing crisis, etc. However, I have to get home and get ready for the Republican Presidential debate so I can hear about which candidate is promising to build the highest wall around fortress America and who will be the toughest on immigration.  That is if they even can talk past Herman Cain's rumored indiscretions.  Talk about Nero playing the violin as Rome burned.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

DHS sinks CruiseWise.com and puts us all out to sea in a leaky ship.

Am I the only one outraged that our immigration laws and policies have become hostage to the restrictionist rabble such that any public discourse on immigration is a game of one upsmanship on how high the wall on the Mexican border should be, or whether or not little children should be allowed to go to school unless they can prove their legal status in America.  Lost in the hyperbole and grandstanding is a real (as opposed to imaginary) problem best illustrated by a true and unfortunately all-too-common story.

Amit Aharoni, a native and citizen of Israel graduated from the Stanford University School of Business, and rather than taking his prodigious education back to Israel, decided to stay in the U.S. and open up an online cruise booking business called CruiseWise.com. Investors were so confident in the prospects that he received $1.65 million dollars in start-up capital, the majority of the money coming from abroad.  With that money he was able to get up and running and he hired nine U.S. employees with plans to eventually expand to hundreds.  These are workers here in the U.S.—not India, or "Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan".  What's more, these are new jobs created at a time when America desperately needs them the most.

So recently, after Amit had filed the necessary paperwork to be able to stay and work in the U.S. he was stunned to learn that the agents of the Department of Homeland Security denied his request.  Amit, who was forced to leave the U.S. and presently is overseeing the start up operations from Vancouver, Canada is reportedly moving his company to one of any other countries whose environment is more hospitable for foreign entrepreneurs, maybe even Ubeki-beki-beki-beki-stan-stan.

This past August, the Obama Administration announced initiatives to streamline business related visas and provide much needed help for start-up companies.  But as usual, the message so clearly enunciated at headquarters didn't even make it out of the building let alone the beltway.  Just like the well-intended prosecutorial discretion memo that pragmatically outlined DHS priorities on who should be removed from the country which was not only ignored, but prompted a wave of insubordination as ICE field officers, denied their red meat, howled in protest.

So let's step back and see where we are in all of this:  as our economy continues to languish we have people willing to invest money into our country and create U.S. jobs.  Yet despite instructions from the President, the functionaries empowered to adjudicate visa applications still have the mindset they grew up with in a post 9/11 world:  immigrants are bad and are coming here to do us harm.  We should all be so harmed to have Amit come here with a giant bag of money and hundreds of jobs.  And while this Kafkaesque circus rolls on, Mitt, Perry, Newt, Cain et al have this surreal discussion about how much fencing is enough to protect us.  Protect us?  From who?  Amit?  Schoolchildren in Alabama?  Tomato pickers? 

Clearly any adults left in the room need to stand up and stop this madness.  Fixing our broken immigration system can go a long way to fixing our broken economy.  But to pretend that the real issue is the swarms of illegals that are snapping up all the good paying jobs and our "generous" welfare benefits is an insult to our traditions as a nation of immigrants not to mention our collective intelligence and distracts us from seeing the self destructive folly of Amit's situation and the thousands of others just like him. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mr. President, you should learn from George Bush.


Dear Mr. President:

Sorry the title to this blog is a little provocative, but I needed to get your attention.  I come in peace with a few observations and suggestions.  I know your hands are full but this is a matter that can't really wait much longer.

You came into the White House in no small part due to your promise to fix our broken immigration system--the one that separates families, keeps our employers from hiring the foreign talent they need, thwarts the efforts of foreign investors and entrepreneurs, and in general keeps upwards of 15 million people operating in a shadow economy.  You brought the 15 million and their families HOPE and you promised CHANGE.

But right out of the box you got hit with the worst financial situation in almost a century and all talk of immigration reform went to the same place as my 401k. To your credit, you tried to be bipartisan and conciliatory to your political opponents, even as they pledged to limit your tenure in the White House their number one priority.  By 2010, the Republicans had done such a good job blaming you for Bush's ruinous policies that America took away your party's control over the House of Representatives and the 60 votes in the Senate, which by some strange reckoning is the new majority.  And yet you still tried to be the honest broker.  In the 2010 lame duck session you backed the extension of the Bush Tax cuts for the wealthy because in good faith you believed the Republicans would reciprocate in kind--with good will and honest intent.  And not unlike Charlie Brown letting Lucy tee up the football one more time you approached the DREAM Act.  But you failed to persuade Democrats Baucus, Nelson, Pryor, Hagan, Tester to vote for the bill and it lost.  You left it up to them to decide and in the end accepted their betrayal because they were in tough districts where "amnesty" was unpopular.  You also refused to tie the DREAM Act to the Bush Tax Extensions (i.e., you give me the DREAM Act, I'll give you the extensions).  So in the end you didn't get what you said you wanted on either.  To make matters worse, even your supporters like Congressman Luis Gutierrez commented:


"If you really want to bring Republicans to the table," he added, "so long as they are getting everything they want, every piece of enforcement, why, why would they come to the table?"

What Congressman Gutierrez was referring to was the Obama strategy on how to work with the Republicans on immigration reform.  Simply put, that policy was to show the Republicans that increased enforcement was the only way to buy credibility with Republicans and generate bipartisan support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws. To demonstrate how tough the administration was on enforcement, Obama's Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported almost 400,000 people in 2010, way more than the Bush administration ever did.  So how impressed were the Republicans with this "get tough" strategy?  The results of the vote on the DREAM act, where only three Republicans voted to shut down the filibuster.  One of those was Utah's Senator Bennett who had already been turned out in his reelection bid, in part because of his moderate views on immigration.

So what does any of this have to do with President Bush you ask?  Remember George Bush, the self-dubbed "decider"--the one who (correctly) pronounced that "elections have consequences"?  The one who appointed his crony to lead FEMA and in the middle of the Katrina disaster put his arm around him and told him "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job".  The one who put Monica Goodling in charge of cleansing the Department of Justice of political leftists and independents, and unapologetically appointed as immigration judges people with no immigration experience but plenty of political juice.  And he did it with his head held high, confident that he was right and ambivalent to those who didn't agree!  Why?  Because ELECTIONS HAVE CONSEQUENCES. 

While I was disgusted at the time, I now have a grudging respect for Dubya.  Through either cunning devise or blithering idiocy (either way doesn't matter), he did what he wanted to do because he was the President of the United States of America.  He did it because he could.  Whether "it" was invading Iraq on a pretext or
feeling up the German President (seen here).  He didn't care about public opinion, and certainly not what his political opponents would say or do. 

So back to you President Obama.  If you really do believe in the DREAM Act, then stop deporting any and all DREAMers.  If you want immigration reform, then stop removing fathers and mothers from their families.  Tell your agents in the field that YOU and YOU ALONE are the President of the United States and have the authority to tell them what their priorities are, and most importantly MAKE THOSE PRIORITIES STICK.  You have the power to transfer a mutinous officer to watch the border along the upper Alaska/Canada border, don't you?  Or to investigate possible marriage fraud in Kazakhstan.  When Jeff Sessions of Alabama or any one of a number of deportaholics go on Faux News to decry you and criticize you for being soft on immigration, remember that they don't like you anyway and never will.  This liberating affirmation should be your mantra for the rest of your first term.  Do it and you will get reelected because apparently people like a President who is decisive, even if they don't like the outcome and will even reelect them.  So as counterintuitive as it may seem and while it may grate against your tendencies to be a consensus builder, look to Bush and learn from him.  I thank you, Mr. President.