No one has been more critical of the hypocrisy, cowardice and opportunism of the Obama administration on immigration policy than this writer. But, under this administration, there has at least been recognition that immigration reform is needed, and there have also been some tentative steps in the right direction, notably in the area of prosecutorial discretion and in attempts to oppose abusive state usurpations of federal authority over immigration through court action.
Therefore, while focusing on the shortcomings of this administration, it is important not to lose sight of the Republican alternative. While there may be some superficial variations among the Republican presidential candidates, all of them are committed to the "enforcement only" policy which their party has been supporting ever since 1996, when the Republicans rammed IIRIRA through Congress in the middle of the night without debate and attached it to a "must pass" military appropriations bill just before that year's presidential election.
"Enforcement only" is nothing but a political strategy of appealing to white working class voters by attacking Hispanics and other minorities. No serious observer can possibly believe that these attacks are limited to targeting immigrants only. The push for "English only" laws in many states, Arizona's ban against teaching Latino studies in schools, proposals to change the Constitution to restrict birthright citizenship, and the current wave of restrictive voter ID laws are all meant as attacks against minority US citizens as well.
However, while all the Republican presidential candidates would, one way or another, move this country backwards on immigration, closer to the days of the Chinese exclusion laws and the 1924 "national origin" racial quotas, none has been further to the extreme right or (uncharacteristically) more consistent than Romney. If he becomes president, America will be commited to the delusional goal of expelling (or "self deporting") every last man, woman and child in America who is in this country without permission.
This is not inconsistent with Romney's self-professed "love" of immigration. America's gates will most likely still be open if he is president - to hedge fund owners and other members of the wealthy elite with whom Romney identifies. Therefore, before middle class immigration, along with all other things middle class, becomes extinct in America, it is worth looking at the dynamics of the Republican presidential campaign.
Why is it that the candidate with the least popular appeal, the least trust, and the most suspicion and disapproval among so many voters in his own party is also the only serious candidate, and the only one who has ever had a realistic chance of winning the Republican nomination? The answer is one word only - money. This year's election will be a battle of the billionaires - most of whom are on Romney's side.
Because of the Supreme Court's highly partisan, catastrophic, Citizens United decision, democracy is being replaced by plutocracy. That decision could more accurately be called "Billionaires United". The future of US immigration may now be almost entirely in the hands of the wealthiest Americans - and their chosen candidate.
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School. He has been practicing business immigration law in New York City for more than 20 years