Your Move, Mr. President

There’s a good rundown in the Times of how young activists in the immigration reform movement—many of them undocumented immigrants themselves—helped get President Obama re-elected:

Now, movement leaders say, it is payback time. When Congress last debated broad reform, in 2007, populist energy was on the side of those opposing amnesty for illegal immigrants. Angry resistance from Republicans defeated a legalization proposal by President George W. Bush.

This time the young immigrants are the rising force, and they seek legislation to give them a direct and permanent path to citizenship. But recalling that Mr. Obama also promised at the start of his first term to move swiftly on immigration overhaul, they say their attitude toward him is wait-and-see.

In many cases, the organizing these folks did took considerably bravery, given how risky it is to travel or congregate when one lacks legal status as a citizen.

As a quick aside, I’ve always thought that some of the more strident members of the anti-immigration did untold damage to their group by failing to exhibit any nuance on the question of young undocumented immigrants who came here as infants or children. If I’m the hypothetical median American voter, the second you tell me that we should be deporting a 25-year-old whose parents took her here when she was 3, I am going to tune you out and go check Facebook or something. And the next time one of your allies comes to me complaining about “amnesty” or whatever, I’ll be less likely to listen.

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Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.