LawFuel.com – January 2013, with the world watching, Barack Hussein Obama publicly took the oath of office as he was sworn in for his second term as President of the United States of America. As President Obama’s personal hero, President Abraham Lincoln, famously said in the opening lines of his own second inaugural address, “[a]t this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first.”[i] Thankfully for those who enjoy – and even look forward to – listening to the oratory eloquence of our Commander in Chief, President Obama at least somewhat disregarded President Lincoln’s sentiments. Clocking in at just under twenty minutes, President Obama’s address touched on many different subject areas including immigration and immigration reform.
In reference to the landmark activism of women’s rights, civil rights, and gay rights advocates, President Obama proclaimed the need to continue their good work when he declared that “[i]t is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began,” and furthermore that “[o]ur journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.”[ii] Whether interpreted as a challenge to his fellow citizens, or as a promise of his work to come, the message was clear: immigration is once again on the table.
An examination of President Obama’s track record with regard to immigration is enlightening, to say the least. During his first campaign for the presidency, in an interview with prominent Spanish language Univision Communications newscaster Jorge Ramos, then-candidate Obama stated, “I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I’m promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible.”[iii] However, President Obama did not take any drastic steps to that end until June of 2012 – nearly three and a half years into his first term in the office of president – when it was announced that certain qualifying individuals living in this country illegally could apply for deferred action.[iv]
A review of ABC News Immigration Editor, Ted Hesson’s January 21, 2013 article outlines President Obama’s immigration policies during his first term as president according to numbers. To wit:
1.6 million: The record number of deportations under Obama during his first four years in office.[v]
154,404: The number of DREAMers who have received deferred action under the Obama program officially started in August.[vi]
$18 billion: The amount of money that the federal government spent on immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year.[vii]
97 percent: The number of jurisdictions in the country where the immigration enforcement program Secure Communities has been implemented.[viii]
0: The level of net migration from Mexico, according an April report by the Pew Hispanic Center.[ix]
While it is impossible to predict with total accuracy what changes will unfold in President Obama’s final four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we may consider his past performance and the ideals espoused at his second inaugural address and at least remain hopeful that positive, meaningful immigration reform is imminent.
[i] Abraham Lincoln. Second Inaugural Address. The east portico of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. March 4, 1865.
[ii] Barack Hussein Obama. Second Inaugural Address. The steps of the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. January 21, 2013.
[iii] “Obameter: Introduce a Comprehensive Immigration Bill in the First Year,” n.d., (January 25, 2013).
[iv] “Secretary Napolitano Announces Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities,” June 15, 2012, (January 25, 2013).
[v] Ted Hesson, “7 Numbers that Tell the Story of Obama on Immigration,” January 21, 2013, (January 25, 2013) quoting “Has Barack Obama deported more people than any other president in U.S. history?”, n.d., (January 25, 2013).
[vii] Id. quoting Ted Hesson, “Report: U.S. Spends More on Immigration Than All Federal Criminal Enforcement Combined,” January 7, 2013, (January 25, 2013).
[viii] Id. quoting Ted Hesson, “Los Angeles Bucks Federal Government on Secure Communities,” December 5, 2012, (January 25, 2013).
[ix] Id. quoting Jeffrey Passel, D’Vera Cohn, and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera, “Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero – and Perhaps Less,” published April 23, 2012, updated May 3, 2012, (January 25, 2013).