Media forgets how Obama created today’s border mess

March 31, 2021

By John Ransom

As the Biden administration stumbles from bad-to-worse along the U.S.-Mexico border, the U.S. media has concentrated its commentary on blaming one of three actors for the debacle: Congress, Biden or Trump. 

But that commentary ignores the fact that in the last 20 years, only one president, Barack Obama, has had sufficient majorities in Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Obama, however, chose not to bring immigration reform up for a vote, so that he could instead pass the health care reform measures that bear his name. 

“Obama’s 2008 election victory can be partly attributed to a huge turnout of reliably Democratic Hispanic voters drawn by his promise to deliver immigration reform that would allow millions of illegal immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship,” Reuters reported in 2011. “Obama broke his promise to tackle immigration reform in his first year in office, partly because it was sidelined during his long push for healthcare reform.”

For many in the coalition that elected Obama in 2008, it was a bitter blow. 

“La promesa de Obama, no. President Barack Obama, he broke his promise,” said Univision anchor Jorge Ramos in 2010 on ABC’s This Week. “It’s that simple. We’ve been waiting for 18 months for change. We haven’t seen change.”

“He [Obama] has a credibility problem right now with Latinos,” Ramos told Politico in 2010. “We’ll see what the political circumstances are in a couple of years, but there is a serious credibility problem.”

Politico reported that Obama’s support among Hispanic voters plummeted, with only 43 percent of Hispanics feeling that Obama “adequately represented” the needs of the Hispanic community.

The publication cited decisions to send the National Guard to the border to turn back immigrants and Obama’s “cheap and easy rhetoric” that disguised inaction for Obama’s subsequent “lukewarm” support amongst Hispanics. 

Indeed, exits polls showed that Democrats went from 67-31 percent Hispanic split between Obama and McCain in 2008 to 60-38 percent spilt between Democrats and Republicans in 2010. 

“If the failure to address immigration played a role in Hispanic voting, it seems to have helped Republicans,” the Center for Immigration Studies wrote in its 2010 mid-term postmortem. 

While many cite the lack of a 60 vote super-majority by Democrats in the Senate as culpable for the failure, Univision’s Ramos brushed that excuse aside.  

“If [Obama] was able to get 60 votes for financial reform, if he can get 60 votes to extend unemployment benefits, how come he can’t get 60 votes for immigration reform?” Ramos asked Politico. “So many Latinos feel there is a lack of leadership, and he is not fighting for immigration reform with the same intensity that he fought for health care reform.”

Since then, no political power — not Biden, Trump or Congress — has enjoyed the authority that Obama had in 2009-2010 to implement change.


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