1 President Obama 1

President Obama says “benvenido, amigos !” to 5 million of us. A great night in our nation’s history

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Last night President Obama took it upon himself to open five million doors to five million people who have waited a long, long time for those doors to open. They have waited worrying every minute, unsure of anything besides a hope and maybe a dream. Those dreams have now come true, the hope made good.

Republicans, caught unable to take even a first step toward a single one of those doors,. erupted in volcanoes of outrage that the President would do such a thing. By executive order, no less. They called him Emperor, Tyrant, Dictator. Probably some called him names unprintable. All because the President stepped forward to do a doorman’s job; to welcome five million among us as the guests they are and to offer then a chance to stay. To work. To get ahead with their lives minus fear of being sent back to the awfulness whence they came.

This is what Republicans railed against.

To hear them talk, their complaint is all about process. The President overrode the law, they say. He acted hastily. He overstpped his powers.

David Gergen wrote a piece for CNN in which he said that although Executive Order is quite OK for a President to use in times of emergency and as commander in chief, the presence in our country of 11 million undocumented, technically “illegal” immigrants is no emergency; and that therefore President Obama had no justification for taking emergency action about it.

The presence of so many millions of people, on insecure status and subject to immediate deportation, is not an emergency ? Really ? I say that Gergen is wrong.

We are talking about 11 million people without drivers’ licenses, yet many of whom do drive, without license or insurance, a great risk to those who drive on the roads alongside them.

We’re talking 11 millilon people who can only work under the table, defenceless against wage theft, extortion, blackmail.

We’re talking 11 million people who cannot get public assistance, whose children cannot be certain of going to school, who cannot legally work, who often work off the books and thus pay no taxes ; who cannot get health insurance and thus are 100 percent a taxpayer cost in emergency rooms; 11 million people who comprise a good three percent of the entire economy — because everyone in an economy is part of it, legality making no economic difference– and whose deportation would by itself throw the economy into recession.

That, dear reader, sounds a lot like emergency to me.

As for the Republicans, who hate Federal spending and want to shut down every program except their own, they’re ready to waste billions and billions of dollars sending National Guard troops to the Mexico border, along with thousands of newly hired border agents, all in search of an impossibility. Billions of dollars that could be spent on infrastructure, on health care, on veterans’ services, on NLRB enforcement, on OSHA, on Civil Rights and voting rights enforcement, on national parks and the Coast Guard.

That, dear reader, sounds a lot like insanity to me.

So, no : i do not agree with David Gergen. I do not agree that the continued precarious existence, year after year after year, of Congress refusing to do anything about it, in America of 11 million people and their families is not an emergency. It is one.

Last night was maybe the best of Obama’s Presidency. He has often missed the bus, frequently mismanaged the Federal bureaucracy, almost always fails to explain his policies, compromises them to pieces; but last night he expressed his policy eloquently, addressed a crisis boldly, took the best of this nation’s soul and gave it shape, measure, and tone. He made us a moral nation again, a nation of welcomers, where before we had turned our backs upon those who risked all to get here and be part of us.

Six million still remain in the shadow. There is work to be done. Maybe someone will do it. Maybe not.

That said, America’s soul sleeps tonight in peace. It basks in harnony. Thank you, Mr. President.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere