This is one Filipino’s observation of the current cause celebre in the country of his residence, the US. This is the decades-long unresolved, broken, unremitting immigration quandary represented by over 11 million non-documented non-citizen residents, mostly Mexicans and other Hispanics, commonly known to Filipinos as TNTs (for Tago nang Tago or always in hiding!) To be sure about it, the Democrats have conceived and offered solutions by way of legislation. The Republicans have zilch.
America has truly come a very long way when an African-American was elected to the Presidency in the elections of 2008. On the evening of January 20, 2009, upon Barack Obama’s inauguration as the nations’s 44th President, the shell-shocked Republicans vowed not to cooperate with this black man’s administration, even promising to make him a one-term President. Obstruction of anything whichever way connected to Mr. Obama was the definition of their very existence. The Republican achievement was obstructing the solutions to the economic ruination, a recession that threatened to be deeper than the Depression of the late twenties which was inflicted upon the nation by the outgoing Republican administration in the very first place. This must never be forgotten. For the Republicans, it is the Party above all else. Such patriotism! Nonetheless, the US economy has recovered.
However, the last mid-term elections yielded exhilarating results for the Republicans. Obstructionism apparently pays. They gained the majority in the Senate while their hold over the House strengthened. Hubris followed but for the realization that two-thirds of the electorate did not vote! Their victory at the polls was, in fact, an illusory mandate.
Furthermore, the Republicans have yet to present a road map of governance beyond the obstructionism which they mistakenly believe to have been rewarded and continue to stoutly conspire to obstruct Obama some more.
For months, President Obama has propositioned the Republican-controlled House (the Senate having already passed a bipartisan version) to pass him a bill he that can sign into law, one that will at last address the festering immigration problem. Emphatically and repeatedly, the President stated that if they failed to do so, he will act on his own by way of an Executive Order, observing constitutionality and jurisprudence, of course. Republican Presidents in the past, notably Reagan and Bush, have issued the same presidential edicts on the same matter.
Well, last Thursday evening, the President lost his characteristic cool and patience. He announced that he will issue an Executive Order that will delay and prioritize deportations of the non-documented resident aliens. This Presidential issuance will allow some 4-million plus undocumented immigrants to live in the US without fear of deportation. (These are generally parents with American-born children and child immigrants illegally brought in to the country as minors but who have known no other country but the US.) An estimated 250,000 to 280,000 Filipino TNTs now residing in uncomfortable concealment here in the US could be benefitted.
For all practical purposes, this cause célèbre involves the use of a President’s prerogative: prosecutorial discretion. Faced with the impossibility of deporting 11 million ‘undocumenteds’ of varied categories, at his discretion, he will concentrate on implementing the law first against those with criminal records and those who pose a threat to national security and public safety. The Republicans resent this behavior.
To the Republicans, this was casus belli--a cause for war! And so, the following day, the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, filed suit in court. Surprise of all surprises! The suit was not against the immigration Executive Order! It was, instead, for past actions taken by the President concerning the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the signature legacy of the Obama years, derisively pet-named Obamacare. It is to be noted that the Republicans have attempted to amend, abrogate or revoke this law, 50-times plus, always prophesying that Obamacare will bring about an economic disaster to the nation. [As a reminder, the very core of Obamacare was the law, crafted from a Conservative concept, implemented successfully in Massachusetts during the Republican Governorship of Mitt Romney who ran against Obama in the 2012 elections and lost.]
Funny, but in fact, the US economy has healed and strengthened from the disaster caused by the previous Republican dispensation. These are indisputable facts. The dollar has regained its health. The price of gasoline is comfortably down. The unemployment rate is now down to 5.8 pct from a high in the upper 9 pct while the Stock Exchange is at record levels. And, of course, by the barrage of consistent, concerted, contrived attacks in media, as a companion strategy of obstructionism, President Obama’s popularity is down. The Republicans are very strong in the arena of obfuscation and deception. Rabid partisans naturally feed on them. Voraciously.
It still remains to be felt, Democrats wish it to be soon enough, but there are already quarters that claim that by the perceived beneficence and boldness of Obama’s immigration fiat, he has fashioned the basis for a second wind that will animate the remaining months of his incumbency. He has been able to lure the Republicans into a brawl Obama does not intend to lose. On the other hand, there are Republican leaders who fear that a backlash from the Latinos who will resent Republican obstructionism over solutions calculated to alleviate the plight of their immigrant families. This is on top of the accepted reality that Republicans are unable to attract minorities towards their partisan flank.
Meanwhile, bolstering the perception that she is a certified airhead, Sarah Palin--remember the half-term Governor of Alaska?--representing her fellow airheads in the GOP, was lampooned in a rag devoted to political satire. Her solution to the immigration problem is to round up all 11 million “undocs,” by commandeering all cruise ships, cargo vessels and barges, hauling the Latinos and send them all off “across the ocean” to Mexico! And when corrected by an interviewer that there is no “ocean” between the US and Mexico, he is supposed to have uttered that she has gone to vacation in the beaches of Baja California, Mexico and “where there are beaches, there should be an ocean!”
Much fun is really in store for students, aficionados and casual observers of American politics. Come January, when the newly elected Republican majority in the Senate sits in, promised action will happen. More gridlock! The Republicans have chosen the immigration issue as their catch-all casus belli against Barack Obama’s ‘lame duck’ days. The Republican capacity to accept that America has elected (and reelected) an African-American as their President is set for an unmasking. It will be unsalutary, as it already is.
My personal conclusion is that racism has always been the foundation of obstruction, gridlock and obscurantism promised by the Republican losers in the night of January 20, 2009.
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.