Congratulations, Mr. President. You have just succeeded in dividing the country.
You have managed to take an ambiguous issue and make it just clear-cut enough to isolate one half of our population from the other. Before your speech two weeks ago immigration was an issue, but there were enough views with enough possible solutions that there weren’t really any set sides. There were enough factions with enough overlap to allow people to talk and even make allowances for each other’s opinions. But now you have decided to make an executive decision, without Congress, daring them to go against you: “To those who question my authority […] I have one answer: Pass a bill.” In other words, everyone needs to decide to either be for you, or against you.
You have just asked for a rift in the country. Even the day before your speech, you managed to pit us against ourselves—48% of us were against you using executive action to address immigration. And the other 52% weren’t for you—only 38% were. The other 14% weren’t sure. Only one third of the population supports your decision. This does not seem like a strong foundation.
Yes, the issue is still complicated. There are both pros and cons, even now, with some balancing out others:
- Something is being done. If nothing else, this will make people decide what they think about the issue, and will make those in Washington try to come up with their own solution if they don’t like this one.
- The government will gain money through the taxes the approved immigrants will then be paying.
- More stable family environment for those approved, because of the lack of fear of deportation (assuming they’re here for family reasons).
- Application to higher-paying jobs.
- More competition for jobs, i.e. more of a base for employers to choose from.
- Cost of applicator-payed applications will end up being a source of income, despite having to hire new employees.
- You said you aren’t rewarding illegal behavior, but you are. You are saying that if people came in illegally but are good people, i.e. not a criminal, then they can stay. But they still came in illegally. So you’re rewarding them.
- More competition for jobs, including higher-paying ones. This affects those who immigrated legally, and those who have always been here. Highschool students, college students, recent grads, and senior citizens will be pushed out by people who came in illegally. Once again, this is rewarding illegal activity, this time at the direct expense of those who act in accordance with the law.
- More people to be on welfare and other government-funded aid.
- Double the number of immigration applicants, all flooding in at the same time (rather than being spread out throughout the year).
- Will cost “hundreds of millions” because of necessary increase in employee number.
But these aren’t even the main issues. You are treating a symptom of a root problem, namely, that we cannot secure our borders. That we have these people here in the first place, that we have this problem to figure out and fight about, means that we are not doing our job of stopping the flow of illegal immigrants. We should not have this problem at all. And now that there are at least some benefits to coming over illegally, not only are you rewarding illegal immigrants, you are encouraging people to continue becoming illegal immigrants. To continue risking everything they have on an illegally-obtained, unstable life. To continue risking their lives on the dangerous journey here. To continue risking their family’s wellbeing and security. You said this executive order would not apply to people who have come here in the last five years. Do you really think they are going to say if they’ve come over recently or not? And what about all the people who don’t apply? Those are the ones with criminal backgrounds. What are you going to do about them?
And you’ve divided the rest of your people.
As all good leaders do.