But current immigration proposals – whether they start this year or in 2017 – have a huge problem: They are still amnesty with a promise of enforcement. This is backward. As House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman pointed out, it would eliminate the President’s incentive to actually enforce the law — regardless of whether it’s 2014 or 2017.
It is the ordering of the steps that matters. We must have enforcement first – making sure our borders are secure and our workplace laws are being followed before having conversations about how to deal with those who have broken the law.
The unfortunate reality is that Presidents of both parties have failed to adequately enforce our laws, which is supremely unfair to those who do follow the law. That is why it is so important that President Obama or any future administration first demonstrate it is serious about following the law. As a nation we cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the 1986 immigration bill that led us to where we are today. That bill promised a “one-time only” amnesty in exchange for border security and workplace enforcement. Those enforcement promises were never kept.
Washington policymakers must understand that the American people are skeptical of Washington, with record low levels of trust. Asking them to trust Washington on immigration, moreover, is even more preposterous given our past history with the 1986 bill and President Obama’s lackluster record of enforcing laws ranging from drugs to healthcare, and even immigration itself.
The President and his allies should recognize the prospect of immigration reform is in their hands. When his administration demonstrates it is willing to faithfully execute the law, the American people’s trust can be restored over time.