September 21st, 2012
07:47 PM ET

Letters to the President #1341: 'Promises, promises'

Reporter's Note: President Obama appears to be doing very well with Hispanic voters. Which is not to say that they are all happy with him…as I note in today’s letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

So I saw some of the comments you made to that gathering of Latino voters and one of them really caught my eye. I can’t quote it, but it went something along the lines of…you’ll admit that you didn’t succeed at comprehensive immigration reform, but it wasn’t for want of trying. You explained how the economy was a wreck, and other matters became very pressing, and on and on…

All of that is valid, I suppose, but I was still a bit surprised to hear it. The truth is, like politicians everywhere all the time, you had to choose some priorities and immigration reform was not one of them; or at least not big enough to get a full, robust hearing. Sure, you can blame it on the Republicans, but there is just not much evidence that you ever really went after this reform with any kind of vigor.

Plenty of political pundits have long suspected why: It is a thorny issue with no easy solutions. To satisfy those who are most invested in helping undocumented immigrants gain citizenship, you must risk infuriating those who oppose such measures. To secure the votes of one group, you must gamble with the votes of others. So the safest bet? Keep making a promise to address the situation, but string out the process of ever acting on that promise…that way you can’t really be pinned down by either side because it remains forever a work in progress.

Perhaps you really are working on this matter. Maybe your plan is to secure re-election and then grab the immigration issue with both hands. Then again, maybe not. There is no way for the rest of us to know, is there? I’m not wrecking on you, but that is what so many voters don’t like about politicians; they’ll make any commitment before the vote, but afterward will only say, “I’m working on it.”

Anyway, hope all is well with you and that the campaign trail is not too tiring. Call if you can.


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