[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/08/06/art.obama.flag.jpg]Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama has talked a good bit about immigration, and raised some important questions. But I have some questions of my own in my daily letter slipped over the White House fence.
Dear Mr. President,
I’ve been watching the immigration debate with some interest the past few weeks, and I have some questions I hope you can answer. Sorry to bother you with them, but I tried calling into a talk radio show and was left on hold. I do not have, mind you, any answers just questions which I hope are fair, unbiased and reasonable. Unlike my opinion on, oh say, the merits of bread pudding which are anything but.
Question one: Is this really about federal versus local responsibilities and jurisdiction? That was the cornerstone of your lawsuit against Arizona, right, that they are playing on your field? While the court largely agreed with your side, I still can’t help but think that this was kind of an end run around the philosophical debate over whether these people who are here illegally should be aggressively identified and thrown out, or whether they should be legalized and allowed to stay.
Question two: If you don’t want local authorities lending a strong hand in pursuing these undocumented visitors (and it at least seems you don’t, based on how you pursued this) aren’t there a lot of other things that the locals could shrug off? For example, many Homeland Security matters could be rightfully called federal business. A lot of drug smuggling, too. Yet if the locals all said “OK, you’re on your own; our police will stick to burglaries and speeding,” I think folks on your team would quickly be screaming for them to get involved again.
Question three: (and this is the really big one) Do you seriously, genuinely, honestly want to take this issue on now and find a solution? Because, I have to say, I’m not convinced that anyone in DC is intent on grabbing this live wire with an election dangling. Both parties would love to play it for votes, but I think they are also afraid of losing votes if they spin it the wrong way. So your political pals on both sides of the aisle are filling the air with empty promises, pseudo debate, and I’d just about bet my house that nothing will be done one way or the other any time soon.
And that’s not good for anyone. People who want a more liberal policy can’t bank on it; people who want a more restrictive one can’t count on that either; even people who want a reasonable compromise, I suspect, have a snowball’s chance on a New Orleans sidewalk of seeing even a hint of it before this election.
And you wonder why people have so little regard for the government? This is why. We have a serious situation; people on both sides and in the middle readily agree on that. What we don’t have is enough serious leaders willing to sit down, hash out an agreement, and put it into law. It’s much more convenient for both sides to blame the other for impeding progress than to actually do something. Because they’re all worried about politics; worried about their own skins more than the good of the country. I hate to sound harsh, but isn’t that what it comes down to? If you and the DC gang (Dems and Repubs) think this is as urgent as you all profess, then take it on right now. You have the power, and frankly the responsibility. Now show that you have the will, and let the chips fall where they may.
I’m traveling back to DC today, if nothing changes in my schedule. Call and say hello if you can. Want to golf this weekend?
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