On Tuesday, Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto, while visiting California, addressed the immigration issue. California is the petri dish of the changing demographics of the entire nation. California is on the front line of that change, as are New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. And it was clear, by the great reception Peña Nieto received, that there is more than one way to look at the issue.
Hispanics, according to the Census Bureau, make up 38.4 percent of California’s population. That’s 120 million people. In Los Angeles County, Hispanics make up 48.3 percent of the population. The state has 58 counties and nine have Hispanic populations of 50 percent or more. Another 11 have Hispanic populations between 30 percent and 50 percent.
They are a political force. Peña Nieto added his call for immigration reform. “We want to be a factor of cohesion, not division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States.”
Unfortunately, with the atmosphere in Washington, D.C., the chances of a comprehensive immigration reform bill hitting President Barack Obama’s desk are nonexistent. Lawmakers on both sides of the divide know it needs to happen, yet it’s not moving. There are still ridiculous calls to send illegals back home. And there are calls for amnesty. It’s impossible to send them home when many in the business community favor some way of making the illegal legal. And, there are two schools of thought. Some economists say the illegals in our midst are a drain, while others say illegal immigrants are a net plus for the economy and help bolster our Social Security system that they pay into but get nothing in return.
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While we know what the problem is, we don’t have a solution, but what we do know is that the president shouldn’t act alone using his powers as executive for several reasons. First, it would be a temporary fix that would only last until 2016. The next president could easily reverse it, creating even more problems than we have now.
While the president could decide to defer deportation of illegals and give parents here illegally a temporary stay, he does not have the power to declare illegals citizens or give them all Green Cards. It would further confuse states that already have varying degrees of enforcement for driver’s licenses to benefits.
So what’s a president to do? The best course of action is to work, however difficult, with Congress. Acting alone would only poison the water for any comprehensive movement toward real immigration reform. On this, he should put his phone and pen down.