December 5, 2010 | Commentary on Political Thought
If there was ever an award for political theater, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–Nev.) would be this year’s winner. All politicians promise the moon, of course, but Reid’s relentless drive to appear to be doing something about enacting immigration legislation this year is Academy Award material.
What puts Sen. Reid and other liberals head and shoulders above the rest is their shameless insistence that they have the power to enact sweeping immigration legislation with a flick of a switch. The worst part is, they’ve convinced many Hispanics they can deliver.
President Obama’s promise to the Hispanic community to enact immigration legislation in his first year in office is well known. Many Hispanics who pulled the lever for him in the 2008 presidential election believed that promise.
Yet despite holding a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate and a majority in the House of Representatives, the president chose to not to push forward any immigration proposals, concentrating instead on a health care bill the people didn’t want. As President Obama knew well, his own party is divided on immigration. And the reason for that is that a majority of the country opposes another sweeping piece of legislation. The president himself has stated that this is a country of laws, where the rule of law is vital to ensure our freedoms and liberties.
But, in a cynical move to lock in the Hispanic vote in future elections, Sen. Reid apparently is overlooking the fact that the votes aren’t there for “comprehensive” immigration legislation, and is pushing forward nonetheless. What matters is perception. And what liberals seek to do is to portray themselves as advocates for the Hispanic community through the promise of a wide-sweeping immigration proposal, while tarring conservatives as racist xenophobes for opposing illegal immigration.
It’s an effective strategy to fire up the Hispanic media. That’s why politicians raised the issue of immigration as Election Day neared.
President Obama himself described conservatives as the “enemy” and reminded Hispanic listeners on Piolin por la Manana (a popular Spanish radio show) to remember who was on their side before heading to the polls.
Sen. Reid, locked in the re-election race of his life, borrowed this gambit from the president’s playbook, in a cynical attempt to capitalize on the growing Hispanic electorate in his state. In fact, Reid went further, making the audacious claim that he would deliver an immigration bill before year’s end. Even for political theatrics, the claim was absurd, given the cold, hard facts. Sen. Reid was forced to scale down his claim and consider looking at other ways to keep hopes alive in the Hispanic community.
Enter the DREAM Act – a piece of legislation that extends legalization to approximately 2.1 million illegal immigrants while permitting them to receive in-state tuition rates at public universities, discriminating against U.S. citizens from out of state and law-abiding foreign students. Every opinion poll on the subject shows that more than two out of every three Americans oppose giving in-state tuition benefits to illegal immigrants. Not surprisingly, the DREAM Act lacks the support it needs in either chamber of Congress to become law.
Which is why, before the elections, Sen. Reid has attached the DREAM Act to the Defense Authorization Bill as an amendment. He knew he didn’t have the votes even for this, but what mattered was making his Hispanic voters back home believe he’s an “amigo.”
The measure, predictably, failed. But Sen. Reid was re-elected with a sizable majority of the Hispanic vote in Nevada.
Now in another blatant act of political theatrics, Reid is promising to bring up the DREAM Act for a full vote on the Senate floor. Of course, the votes still aren’t there. Expect this seemingly endless kabuki dance to continue well into next year as the Left works overtime to portray conservatives as the “enemy” of the Hispanic population.
The irony is that Hispanics are more concerned about the economy and the stubborn unemployment rate nearing double digits nationwide than they are about illegal immigration. Additionally, Hispanic attitude towards illegal immigration is also changing with more of them having an unfavorable view of illegal immigration, as confirmed by a recent Pew Hispanic Center poll.
Although DREAM Act advocates may contend that this is an education issue, it’s clear that this is simply a backdoor for a massive path to legalize all illegal immigrants. If they were serious about trying to increase education achievement in the Hispanic community, they would be focusing on taking on the special interests to reduce the skyrocketing Hispanic High school drop-out rate.
From education to the economy and yes, even on immigration, Hispanics are reconsidering the politics of victimization being propagated by the Left. The Left will continue to cling to the hope that never happens.
Israel Ortega is the Editor of Libertad.org, a Spanish-language site offering the Heritage Foundation’s research, analysis and commentary.
First appeared in Fox News Latino