President Obama made headlines on Friday when he announced that the Department of Homeland Security would no longer pursue deportation for illegal immigrants under the age of 18 that were brought to this country by their parents.
Pundits have correctly said that the move was purely political but I think many pundits that have said this move will shore up support from the Latino community may be making a major assumption.
And you know what’s happens when you assume.
There is no doubt that the move will certainly garner increased support from any pro-immigrant voters. But these voters were not likely to vote for Mitt Romney, and were not on the fence.
But as we look at other assumed support, we can begin to see some of the problems with making these assumptions.
First of all, while right wing conspiracy theorists may want to argue this point, I don’t see a swell of illegal immigrants rushing to the polls to place their vote for President Obama because of the move. Common sense says that if you were an undocumented person in this country, you would naturally avoid signing up in a very official way in an election.
Put it this way, if you did whatever you could to get into a foreign country illegally to pursue a better life, would you risk it by voting in an election? A small percentage may make the move, but I do not think we are talking about enough to sway an election.
Another major assumption from this move is that it will automatically guarantee support from the Latino community. And while it is certain that some Latinos favor this move, it is offensive to think that anyone can guess what an entire community thinks about a political issue.
Too often, it is assumed that all Latinos all agree on every immigration issue. The Latino community is as politically diverse as any other community and changing a rule for under-aged illegal immigrants will not be seen the same way by every Latino.
Where Obama’s political move may make a major impact is not necessarily with Latino voters, but with independent voters of any ethnicity that are tired of the lack of progress on illegal immigration.
There are three distinct and different groups of Americans based on how they look at illegal immigration. There are the people who feel everyone who has entered this country illegally should be deported immediately despite any role they may currently be playing in our country. Then there are people who feel that every illegal immigrant is helping our country and that we should simply make them all Americans and move on. Both of these groups are in a distinct minority to the third group.
The third group of Americans believes there is a gray area on this issue and struggle with any absolutes. These Americans are open to compromise on both sides of the issue. They see value in things like the ASSET bill that would reward the right kinds of undocumented students. But they also see value in ideas that protect the security of this country and want to keep our immigration policy fair but based in common sense.
It’s in this third group of Americans where President Obama’s political maneuver last week can make a difference. This one concept will not secure their votes, but it does strike a positive chord as a common sense move. Yes, some Latinos are in this group but so are some African Americans, Italian Americans, German Americans, Irish Americans, and, well, you get the idea.
We are going to see political pandering of all shapes and sizes over the next few months. The pandering will be to all types of groups hoping to get the edge in the election.
But the most important group to pander to remains the independent voter. The independent voter believes in compromise and does not believe in absolutes. They are quiet, but they will make all the difference.
About The Blogger
- Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.