It would be easy to think that the bottom is falling out of Barack Obama's re-election campaign. If one word could describe his recent statements and actions, it would be "inept". Beginning with his attacks on Willard's Bain Capital record, which were promptly contradicted by Obama's own surrogates, and continuing with the Democrats' disastrous loss in Wisconsin where the president, incredibly, now says he was "too busy" to campaign in person, followed by his latest gaffe about how the private sector is "doing fine", Obama appears determined to run one of the worst presidential re-election campaigns since Jimmy Carter.
In addition, the president is up against the money obstacle. Romney wiped the floor with him in raising campaign money during May, and Obama's super-pac is said to have only a few million dollars on hand, while Karl Rove and the Koch brothers are reportedly on target to raising a billion dollars for their attack ads. And this is before the Supreme Court throws out Obama's signature health care reform law and upholds Arizona's S.B. 1070 Hispanic immigrant persecution law, as is expected soon by everyone except the most confirmed wishful thinkers.
Never mind that at least some of the criticism of the president is one-sided and unfair: Romney's record as a venture capitalist is indeed fair game. Nor was Wisconsin a total disaster for the Democrats. They took back the state Senate, meaning that Governor Scott Walker has lost his power to impose any more of his far right wing, union-busting agenda. And while the private sector is not "doing fine", there are good economic arguments for believing that it would be a lot worse off if the Republicans were in power.
Furthermore, Obama is still capable of talking a good game in favor of justice and humanity, as in the case of his support for same-sex marriage equality rights. (So green cards for gay and lesbian marriage partners are just around the corner, right? Don't hold your breath.) But the media and the public do not seem to be interested in anything that might be favorable to Obama. The president is clearly losing his former magic touch, and the mood of the country is turning against him.
There is a law of cause and effect in life, and politics. The effects of an action do not always come from the immediate cause, but sometimes from an entirely different direction. President Obama has been pursuing one of the most cynical, cruel and inhumane immigration policies of any president in modern history, with record numbers of deportations and breakups of families, many with US citizen members, together with a relentless agenda of harassment against employers who commit the "crime" of daring to sponsor professional workers for legal visas.
Meanwhile, under the Obama administration, deaths in immigration detention and at the Mexican border comtinue unabated. While this may gain him a few white votes, there has to be something fundamentally wrong with a president who thinks that he needs to engage in violations of basic human rights in order to remain politically viable. This is not only a serious political miscalculation, which is likely to make many Hispanic and other minority US citizens, whose support he badly needs, stay home this fall (even if they are allowed to vote despite the voter suppression strategy that many Republican states are pursuing). It is also a serious comment on the president's fitness to continue to hold office.
The perception that President Obama, instead of being a shining knight of "change" that so many of us once thought he was, may be one of the most calculating, cynical, manipulative, and even less forgivable, inept, presidents in modern history, could well be at the root of his growing unpopularity today. What goes around comes around.
All this being said, Willard Romney could not possibly be worse for immigration, right? Let's take a closer look. In April, 2012, the Center for American Progress Action Fund issued a report entitled: Nightmare Ahead: What a Romney-Rubio Presidency Would Mean For Immigration. This report lists, inter alia, the following regressive legislative and administrative priorities we can expect from a Romney administration:
1) Make E-Verify mandatory for all employers;
2) Support for states seeking to pass anti-immigrant laws like Arizona's;
3) Implementing a nationwide strategy of "attrition" or "self deportation" by making life so miserable for unauthorized immigrants that they will want to leave;
4) Elimination of "Prosecutorial Discretion", which has at least helped a lucky few gain relief from deportation and holds out the hope that a few more very fortunate people might benefit;
5) Construction of another 1,400 miles of a wasteful, expensive border fence.
The above are only some of the anti-immigrant policies we could expect from an administration that would owe its existence in large part to having successfully appealed to the prejucices of white voters in both the primary and the general election.
As I have said before, some of the passengers on the Titanic may have had a problem with the deck chairs. But the ship was still better off without the iceberg. Willard Romney's immigration iceberg may be on the way.
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.