Regular readers of The Times' letters page have probably gathered that the topic of immigration has the unique ability to galvanize writers into all-or-nothing, uncompromising sides: those who demand strict enforcement of the law and concerted efforts to deport as many of the undocumented as possible, and others who accuse the deportation-only crowd of cruelty and naivete.
The initial batch of letters responding to President Obama's unilateral action on immigration Thursday echoes and even amplifies that difference. Readers who favor tougher enforcement accuse the president of flouting Congress and the will of the people in service of a group of lawbreakers; those who support the president's action say the obstructionist Republicans had this coming.
Absent from the discussion is any hope — or even desire — for the two sides to work on this together.
Westlake Village resident Catherine Wirtz says Obama behaves like a king:
The last time I checked, the U.S. Constitution called for a president, not a king or a dictator. The fact that Congress didn't pass Obama's version of immigration reform should tell him that a large section of our citizens do not like his plan.
It appears he is using this tactic to hide his foreign policy and domestic failures.
Santa Monica resident T.J. Golden advocates for American offenders:
The amnesty that Obama has granted is to millions of immigrants who are "illegal." While he is in such a giving mood, he could grant pardons to all U.S. citizens who have outstanding misdemeanor crime charges pending or are currently incarcerated for such offenses.
Certainly, law-breaking U.S. citizens deserve to be treated at least as well as non-citizens.
Tom Budlong of Los Angeles accuses the Republicans of cruelty:
My respect for the Republicans, after their response to Obama's immigration actions, has hit a new low. My respect for Obama has jumped.
The idea of deporting someone who thinks, acts, looks and smells like an upstanding citizen, even those who happened to have been brought here as a baby, as the Republicans are so insistent on doing, is just plain mean. Deporting these people may run afoul of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
Cerritos resident Brian Klopotek foresees more of the same from the GOP:
Republicans are never, ever, going to cooperate with Obama, so he shouldn't operate as though that is a possibility. That's been his constant mistake for the last six years.
The bluster that his immigration reform "cemented their intransigence" is just that — bluster. Don't buy it.
Sandra Stubban of Stanton recalls an Obama campaign slogan:
Who knew when Obama was talking about "hope and change" that he was referring not to American citizens, but rather to illegal immigrants?