A Low Bar
Interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday, first he goes left:
Well, I think the principle that we don't want two classes of people in America is a principle that a lot of people agree with, not just me and not just Democrats. But I am encouraged by, you know, what Speaker Boehner has said. Obviously, I was encouraged by the bipartisan bill that passed out of the Senate. I genuinely believe that Speaker Boehner and a number of House Republicans, folks like Paul Ryan, really do want to get a serious immigration reform bill done. And keep in mind that the Senate bill and the legislation that I've supported already calls for a very long process of earning citizenship. You had to pay fines. You had to learn English. You had to pay back taxes. And you had to go to the back of the line.
And at the end of that, you could get citizenship.
Of course, that wasn't President Obama going to his left, only a reiteration of the position he generally has held. Then, however, he dribbles right, stating
If the speaker proposes something that says right away, folks aren't being deported, families aren't being separated, we're able to attract top young students to provide the skills or start businesses here and then there's a regular process of citizenship, I'm not sure how wide the divide ends up being. That's why I'd want to prejudge it.
What I'm encouraged by is the fact that that Speaker Boehner and others seem to recognize our country will be stronger if we are able to resolve this issue in a way where, you know, kids, for example, who have grown up here and for all practical purposes, are Americans but don't have the right papers are not being punished.
Except that, as the President surely understands, under the paltry standards to which Obama is holding Speaker Boehner, those "kids... who have grown up here and for all practical purposes are Americans" would not become Americans. If they don't get citizenship, creation of those "two classes of people in America" Obama claims not to want would be merely a matter of time. As surely he understands.
That "regular path of citizenship" the President does genuinely support is, well, an already established, regular path of citizenship which even Republicans are loathe to oppose. The Washington Post reports
On Thursday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) released a list of Republican “principles” on immigration. The statement declared that there would be “no special path” to citizenship for illegal immigrants, but that, in general, they should be allowed to “live legally and without fear” in the United States if they meet a list of tough requirements and rules.
Still, Obama says "The fact that they're for something, I think, is progress," suggesting that he wants a bill, whatever might be in it, to reach his desk. Details optional. Repub leaders are given the green light to continue to oppose citizenship because the President is tickled pink they are for "something."
If Speaker Boehner were hooked up to a polygraph, he would explain that "live legally and without fear" means protection from law enforcement, an arm of legal government. Whatever pressure is placed on illegal immigrants (cartoon below from Paul M. Szep) by private sector employers is, however, off-limits from government regulation. Legalization without citizenship: a pretty sweet deal for employers, not so much for immigrants and the American public.