Happy New Year! Why There Will Be No 2009 Amnesty
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We need to maintain a positive attitude toward the potential 2009 "comprehensive immigration reform" battle.

So I'm going to analyze, but spin in a positive, more reassuring light, a series of events and news stories from the last few months that have been widely pointed to as a sure sign of a looming amnesty disaster.

Remember as you read that this is my opinion. But it is more optimistic and, I believe, more realistic than anything you have read elsewhere.

Before we get started, I hope you will take a moment to join me in extending a big "thank you" to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for moving ahead on his defiant Senate appointment of Roland Burris.

Blagojevich's rebellious behavior provides yet another distraction that will prevent president-elect Barack Obama from encouraging a Congressional amnesty.

The Blagojevich scandal may drag into April. Along the way (and worst of all from Obama's perspective) prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation into the "thousands of phone calls" he bugged may lead to an in-depth probe of the president-elect's Chicago political ties.

Another happy note: since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is foolishly hell-bent on trying to block Blagojevich's legal and perfectly reasonable choice, his time will be otherwise occupied, too.

Not that Obama planned to get behind amnesty anyway what with his already overflowing plate of disasters-in-progress.

Included among the urgent messes that he promised to clean up are Wall Street, the auto industry collapse, the health care crisis, rising unemployment, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War and America's mounting trade and budget deficits.

Shall I list more items of pressing national concerns that dwarf amnesty for lawbreakers or do you get the picture?

If, on the other hand, Obama's strategy is to look for more headaches and greater chaos in the first days of his administration, then by all means he should throw his weight behind amnesty.

No other federal policy would set off such a firestorm of protest directed at Obama at the exact moment he should be working toward establishing credibility.

Remember what happened to former president Bill Clinton when he kicked off his presidency by tackling the controversial (but tame by comparison to amnesty) issues of allowing gays in the military, banning assault weapons and nationalizing health care?

Months passed before Clinton regained his footing. But Obama doesn't have the luxury of time.

Despite the obvious political suicide that amnesty would be for Obama, many of my nervous Nellie Internet friends have worked themselves into quite a lather about what they feel are its very real prospects.

Over the last several weeks, the main cause for concern has been Reid's revelation that Obama and John McCain reached an immigration "understanding."

Here's Reid's exact reply to a Detroit Free Press reporter who asked him about immigration's prospects:

"On immigration, there's been an agreement between (President-elect Barack) Obama and (Arizona Republican Sen. John) McCain to move forward on that. ... We'll do that. We have to get this economy stuff figured out first, so I think we'll have a shot at doing something on health care in the next Congress for sure.

"We've got McCain and we've got a few others. I don't expect much of a fight at all. Now health care is going to be difficult. That's a very complicated issue. We debated at great length immigration. People understand the issues very well." [Reid Says Democrats Ready to Tackle Big Issues, by Deborah Barfield Berry, Detroit Free Press, November 23, 2008]

My take:

  • Reid wasn't present at the conversation between Obama and McCain. The two are, by the way, enemies and not friends. At best, Reid's information is second hand.

But even if Reid correctly assessed that Obama and McCain concur on immigration, it doesn't matter what they agreed upon privately. Hundreds of others in the House and Senate must vote amnesty into law—a hurdle that the other side hasn't been able to overcome for since 2000.

  •  I can't imagine why Reid wouldn't expect "much of a fight" since there was such an uproar in the Senate over which he presided during a long string of defeated amnesty efforts. So vocal and firmly committed was the anti-amnesty contingent that Reid didn't dare bring the Dream Act to the floor in a last-gasp effort because he knew he didn't have anywhere close to the votes he needed.

  • Reid may think that the Senate has "got" McCain but the defeated GOP presidential candidate doesn't have any influence within the Republican Party, especially when it comes to immigration.

    McCain's peers clearly see that all his advocating for open borders for decades did him no good in the presidential election when it most counted. McCain's stock is so low within the party that the Republicans may actually be sorry they ever heard of him.

  • Reid correctly states: "We debated…immigration." But he conveniently omits that his side lost the argument!

For argument's sake, let's assume that I'm dead wrong about all my bullet points.

Amnesty still isn't on the horizon—as Reid himself said.

Reid's key phrase in his Free Press interview isn't that Obama and McCain are of like minds on immigration.

The crux is this: "We have to get this economy stuff figured out first…"

According to Reid, the economy comes first, then immigration.

And how long, exactly, will it take Congress to "figure out" the economy?

Given that the initial step in correcting the economy is to stabilize it, my conservative estimate is five years. That in turn means amnesty debates would be put off until early during Obama's second term, assuming he survives his first.

Behind closed doors, Democrats confess that the party wants nothing to do with immigration reform.

From a Wall Street Journal story:

"…Some Democratic leaders in Congress consider the whole idea of immigration reform to be radioactive. Privately, they say they simply want to stay away from it."[Democrats Risk Losing Hispanics, by Gerald Seib, Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2008]

The main reason that there will be no Obama amnesty is because he doesn't need it politically. Unlike outgoing President George Bush, who viewed amnesty as leverage to get Hispanics to vote Republican, Obama already has that bloc in his back pocket.

Wrote Seib:

"Mr. Obama is riding a huge high with Hispanics. In a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last week, he got a positive rating from 82 percent of the Hispanics surveyed."

Even our long time thorn in the side Frank Sharry, former head of the National Immigration Forum, now executive director of America's Voice, , can't make a good amnesty argument. Seib cited Sharry's lame case that if Obama fails to act, in the 2010 Congressional election Hispanic voters will abandon the Democrats.

Where, exactly, would Hispanic Democrats go? They certainly wouldn't, as McCain's 2008 showing at the polls proves, switch to the Republicans.

Luckily for us, Obama is way too smart to fall for any scare talk like Sharry's.

Other pro-amnesty arguments are so silly, a sophomore can see through them.

Another long-time adversary, Jorge G. Castañeda, writing in (where else?), the New York Times, commented that amnesty would: "signal his gratitude to the nearly 70 percent of the Latino electorate who voted for him."[Call off the Immigration Hunt, by Jorge G. Castañeda, New York Times, , December 27, 2008]

Castañeda's simple sentence is wrong on several counts. First, as I noted above, who else would Latinos vote for? They historically vote Democrat—period!

But secondly, and more importantly, Hispanic voters who supported Obama are American citizens. Illegal aliens are not. By extension, Obama has no obligation whatsoever to aliens.

The voters Obama "owes"— assuming he agrees that any obligation exists— are African Americans, 95 percent of whom voted for him but whose unemployment rates are the highest in the nation.

If Obama feels compelled to repay a debt, an amnesty to aliens who would further increase black worker displacement would be his worst possible move.

Another development on top of Reid's incredibly stupid comments and the nonsense from Sharry and Castañeda that has my otherwise sound-thinking allies on edge is Obama's newly appointed Cabinet.

Yes, Energy, Homeland Security and Labor Secretaries designate Bill Richardson, Janet Napolitano and Hilda Solis are bad. They're treasonous, shameless, and despicable.

But having enemies in the presidential cabinet is old hat for us.

From the Bush administration:

And speaking of Bush, on immigration he was aligned with the nation's most radical, anti-American elements. No one—not even the ultra-liberal Obama and his Cabinet— could be to Bush's left on border issues.

So devoted to amnesty was Bush that he lobbied for it live from the border.

And, finally, although Bush's former deputy chief of staff and immigration point man isn't Hispanic, Karl Rove could not have been a bigger amnesty advocate had he been Mexico born and raised.

My point is this: whatever challenges Obama's administration may present us with, we have beaten them all back before.

And if we have to fight the same battle to save America over and again, then we will—annoying, frustrating and exhausting though it is.

We'll have to remain vigilant and, of course, keep donating and writing angrily to our Congressmen.

I'll close on what may be my most important point.

Whatever else Obama may be, he is a keen politician. In four years, Obama rose from an obscure, African American Illinois state legislator to president of the United States.

In the process, he obliterated the once-respected John Edwards and steamrolled the much better known Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination going away. In the general election, Obama made mincemeat out of the vastly more experienced McCain.

With all Obama's political smarts, he's not going to risk his career on the dicey gamble that amnesty represents.

Joe Guzzardi [email him] is a California native who recently fled the state because of over-immigration, over-population and a rapidly deteriorating quality of life. He has moved to Pittsburgh, PA where the air is clean and the growth rate stable. A long-time instructor in English at the Lodi Adult School, Guzzardi has been writing a weekly column since 1988. It currently appears in the Lodi News-Sentinel.
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