Immigration and the powers of incumbency
There are a lot of drawbacks to running for re-election when the unemployment rate hits 8.2 percent and a majority of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. You get blamed for problems that are not your fault — such as high gas prices — and are at the mercy of events you cannot control. Economic turmoil in Europe or a shut-off of oil supplies from the Middle East could destabilize the economy and impair President Obama’s chances in November.
But an incumbent president also has tremendous advantages. He can use his powers to highlight issues, make appointments and enact policies in ways that no challenger can begin to match. And Obama has just provided a textbook example of how to employ those powers in the area of immigration reform.
Using his executive authority, he mandated that young people who were brought here illegally as children would no longer be deported and could apply for a new status leading to work permits, Social Security cards and driver’s licenses — but not citizenship. Anywhere from 800,000 to 1.4 million could qualify. That’s a fraction, but a visible and vocal one, of the 11 million undocumented immigrants now living in the United States.
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