One impressive thing about President Obama's recent pledge that he'd try to get comprehensive immigration reform passed in his second term if reelected, made during a televised interview with the Spanish-language Univision network, is the seemingly bipartisan nature of the unhappy reactions that skeptics have been posting online.
During a network interview Friday, Obama said: "I can promise that I will try to do it in the first year of my second term. I want to try this year. The challenge we’ve got on immigration reform is very simple. I’ve got a majority of Democrats who are prepared to vote for it, and I’ve got no Republicans who are prepared to vote for it."
A good intention perhaps, but much of the online reaction since has tended to bring up where the road paved with good intentions leads to. During Obama's first term, immigration reform efforts like the Dream Act have failed while enforcement-based policies like the controversial Secure Communities fingerprint-sharing program have stuck, contributing to record deportations.
The end result, if reaction to Obama's statement is any indication, is skepticism from voters who had hoped for comprehensive immigration reform by now - and jeers from those who don't support it. On both right- and left-leaning websites, critics have been recalling similar campaign promises in 2008 and dismissing Obama's statement as election-year pandering, with reactions ranging from yawns to snark. Here are a few comments from a handful of sites.
Under a piece in the left-leaning Firedoglake, GlenJo wrote:
Wow, this from the guy that deports more people than Bush.
What won’t he say to get votes?
What will he do once he gets them?
And this one from Charles, posted in the conservative National Journal:
Bo panders to hispanics, Promises amnesty for illegal alien lawbreakers. Does this radical have no shame.
On the left-leaning social justice magazine site ColorLines, which posted a story yesterday, Noreformboycottcensus posted:
"I can promise that I will try to do ..." What a bunch of BS. We heard it all before. Obama had 2 years of Democratic majority in Congress and still he choose not to work on immigration reform. Obama, give us a reason to vote for you other that "Republicans are even worth".
And under a piece in the conservative Hot Air blog (which also featured comments along the lines of "half your family is here illegally") Nethicus wrote:
Manager to Employee: Look, you really haven’t done anything for the company in the past 3 years, except spend lots of money and actually hurt our bottom line. So don’t expect to work here in November.
Employee: Wait! You don’t want to do that. I have great plans for my contributions to the company after November!
Manager: Why didn’t you do that stuff the past 3 years?
Employee: Look out! Paul Ryan is pushing your grandmother off a cliff! *runs*
Of course, passing comprehensive immigration reform is no easy task, and it does require bipartisan support. Reform proposals under the Bush administration faltered also. In the absence of legislative reforms, one thing the Obama administration has done recently is to make small changes, for example, a proposed administrative tweak under U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that would make it easier for some family members of U.S citizens to legalize.
But the administration's staunch enforcement record is a difficult hurdle to overcome. Interestingly, the online back-and-forth over Obama's statement to Univision has been similar to that in a long string of comments under a piece last year in the liberal Daily Kos, which cited past examples of the president's immigration reform pledges. While some defended Obama, several others then vented frustration with his policies, among them YucatanMan who wrote:
He has zero credibility on immigration after his utterly shattered promises.
Worse, as KOS points out, his administration has vigorously -- enthusiastically and viciously -- gone after undocumented immigrants who are not guilty of any violent crimes.
We know it. He knows it. His administration has made the number of deportations an evaluation milestone in the performance appraisals of ICE agents.
It'll be interesting to see how he tries to salvage this self-created mess. Broken promises are pretty hard to smooth over.