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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily

Bloggings on Immigration Law

by Roger Algase

Bloggings: A few thoughts about Angelo Paparelli's comment: "Face off: Foreign Entrepreneurs vs. the Immigration Alligators - with Obama as referee" by Roger Algase

Angelo Paparelli's June 10 Blogging lists some of the most important of the many ways that President Obama could make the legal immigration system more equitable and realistic for the skilled, educated, foreign specialty workers and  entrepreneurs  who have the most to contribute to America'a economy and society. To add just one of many other possible items to Mr. Paparelli's list, the president could easily arrange to withdraw Donald Neufeld's memo barring offsite professional workers, mainly Indian computer specialists, from obtaining H-1B status.

As every immigration lawyer knows, this memo was issued without any legal authority other than an egregious distortion of the relevant INA provisions, and with total disregard of the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act. All it would take to consign the Neufeld memo to the dustbin of immigration history would be one or two phone calls by the president (perhaps with a request for a couple of resignations in order to keep the alligators out of the H-1B program).

Of course, there is no chance that any reasonable or sensible action such as the above, or those that Mr. Paparelli so wisely recommends, will take place in this administration.  This brings me to the only question I would like to raise about Mr. Paparelli's choice of words. Why call Obama a "referee" when the president is so obviously on the side of the immigration alligators, if not the person who put them into the moat in the first place?

Mr. Paparelli is absolutely right to blame politics for Obama's refusal to lift a finger (or a pen) to fix the system. But where do we go from here? Obama, as Mr. Paparelli also points out, is no fool. The president obviously thinks that, to borrow an old expression from the Vietnam war period, he can continue to hold on to the hearts and minds of America's immigrant communities because he also has them somewhere else.

The only alternative to Obama and his immigration alligators (as the president sees it) is the Republicans with their nuclear option - five years in prison for each day that someone overstays a visa. (This is not my idea - it was in the immigration bill, H.R. 3447, that the House passed in 2005, the last time the Republicans controlled that chamber before last year's corporate money driven election debacle.) In the cynical, hypocritical calculus that passes for immigration policy in today's White House, immigrants and immigrant advocates can be thrown under the bus (or into the moat, in order not to mix metaphors) because they have no place else to go. Better the party of the immigration alligators than the party of total immigration nuclear extinction.

But what if Obama's political calculus is just as flawed as his alligator dependent immigration policies and his prevarications about how helpless he supposedly is to call off the alligators without "bipartisan" Congressional support, which is as likely to come as the alligators are to turn into butterflies? What if America's immigrants, and their US citizen family members, employers, advocates, and all Americans of good will take to the streets, peacefully, day after day, demonstration after demonstration, rally after rally, and if need be, strike after strike,  to show Obama and his shortsighted, cynical immigration "enforcers" that they can no longer take America's Latinos, Asians and other minorities, the very people without whose votes Obama never could have been elected, for granted?

What if there is a serious third party - a Tequila Party - whose rise could cost Obama the election? True, this could lead to a monumental game of chicken, where Obama tries to scare minorities about the (very real) horrors awaiting them if a Tea Party bigot or some other Republican (is there any such other Republican?) takes over the White House, while immigrant advocates try to scare Obama into thinking that he might lose next year's election without minority votes.

Admittedly, it is hard to tell where this might lead. But there is a real possibility that a good effect might come out of this. Obama might realize that America's immigrant communities and their supporters have him exactly where he thinks he has them. Then we might, just possibly, see officials such as Donald Neufeld and the enforcement-only addicted DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, embark on their long overdue return to private life, as the alligators start to leave the immigration moat.