Compared to the heavy-metal terror I used to feel listening to Pres. Bush's State of the Union immigratiion appeals, Pres. Obama's obligatory immigration section tonight was easy-listening music. The verses and chorus pushing for amnesties for illegal aliens were nearly identical to last year's speech and just didn't sound like he had a thought in the world that any of it could happen.
What really galled me, though, was Pres. Obama bragging about more than 3 million U.S. jobs created during the last 22 months.
That could have been good news for unemployed Americans. But during that same period, the Obama Administration issued more than 3 million work visas to new immigrants and other foreign workers (more than half of them permanent).
What is the point of all that talk in the speech about creating jobs when the federal government is importing so many new workers? Although the number of work permits issued is primarily controlled by Congress, Pres. Obama could be asking for reductions to give relief to all those Americans who have been unemployed for such long periods. He said nothing. And he gave no sign tonight of having the slightest interest in how immigration affects the labor market. In fact, he called again for "comprehensive immigration reform." All bills with that name have included big increases over the already-bloated immigration numbers.
But on our TV screens tonight, the Culprit in Chief in giving away the jobs to foreign workers was not the Commander in Chief giving the speech. Rather, it was the Speaker of the House sitting behind him.
The U.S. House of Representatives could easily pass several great bills that would immediately cut the foreign work permits to far below the job creation numbers. But Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) refuses to bring a single one to the floor for a vote.
Yes, Senate Majority Leader Reid (D-Nev.) and Pres. Obama would push back, but the Republican-majority House could put this issue of giving away most new jobs to immigrants into the national spotlight and force a showdown. Nearly every Republican sitting in that Chamber tonight has been part of a conspiracy of silence with Speaker Boehner to make sure that unemployed Americans don't get priority for new U.S. jobs.
IDEAS ABOUT TRAINING AMERICAN WORKERS A HOPEFUL SIGN ON IMMIGRATION FRONT
I really liked this part of the speech:
I also hear from many business leaders who want to hire in the United States but can't find workers with the right skills.
This is the place where we usually hear that the answer is to let companies fill these positions with all those skilled workers around the world who would dearly love to move here.
But the speech took a refreshing turn:
Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job. Think about that — openings at a time when millions of Americans are looking for work. That's inexcusable. And we know how to fix it.
I don't know whether that particular skill shortage figure is correct (businesses have a way of grossly exaggerating), and I don't know if the President will truly back up his words, but he was so right to say that corporations and colleges need to create partnerships to train Americans for the jobs that are actually available. If a shortage does exist, America has the people to fill it, if leaders would provide for the training instead of taking the easy fix of bringing in more foreign workers.
Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.
WHAT WASN'T SAID MAY BE MOST IMPORTANT SIGN THAT WE'RE SLOWLY WINNING
I think all American citizens who for so many years have been fighting the Bush/Kennedy/McCain/Obama efforts to further enlarge the foreign labor pool here should feel a real sense of victory in what wasn't said tonight.
We know that the President would dearly love to work with fat cats like FOX owner Rupert Murdock and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to dramatically increase the immigration flow above the current level. But there wasn't a word about that tonight. Considering that this address was by all accounts a re-election campaign speech, the President wasn't going to dwell on things that would work against him at the ballot box.
And he basically acknowledged that a giant amnesty has no chance in Congress:
. . . if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let's at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country.
This was his appeal for the DREAM Act amnesty for illegal alien young adults. He didn't say the name of the amnesty because it has become something of a dirty word in the Republican presidential debates. Just last night in Florida, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich joined Mitt Romney in pledging to veto the DREAM amnesty if it were to come to their White House desk.
The Republican House is not about to undercut its presidential candidates by even thinking about taking up a DREAM Act amnesty.
The flowery words about giving the young illegal aliens U.S. citizenship so they can "invent new products and create new jobs" were really just meant to help Mr. Obama's new domestic policy chief Cecilia Munoz get her former boss the National Council of La Raza to get out the vote in the fall. Not serious talk. Thus, not a serious threat, leaving me so much more relaxed than in the days when Pres. Bush uttered these words and had Republican Senate leaders ready to almost make it happen.
Elise Foley over at the Huffington Post wrote a clever comparison of the immigration sections of last year's and this year's State of the Union addresses.
The comparison makes the case that Pres. Obama no longer represents a serious threat on the amnesty front.
But, oh, how I long for a President who would actually be a source of hope for American workers -- who could even recognize that there is a connection between the millions of foreign work permits given out and the opportunities that are available for American workers.
The President does understand that there is a difference for the American people in whether a business ships a job overseas or creates it here in the U.S.
My message is simple. It's time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.
Why can't he see that importing an immigrant worker for a job is basically the same as shipping the job overseas? In both case, an unemployed American worker doesn't get the job.
Until Pres. Obama faces that reality -- or Speaker Boehner tries to force him to face it -- our government will continue to give out work permits to immigrants and other foreign workers about as fast as our economy creates new jobs.
What a state of the union!
ROY BECK is Founder & CEO of NumbersUSA