Jose Antonio Vargas for The Guardian: 'Obama underscored the fact that, as president, he can only do so much'

January 25th, 2012

The Guardian
January 25, 2012
By, Jose Antonio Vargas


Tuesday’s state of the union address didn’t stake out a grand, overarching vision. What it did accomplish, however, was address all of the various groups that needed reassuring in this election year. November, after all, will be a turn-out game.

In subtle but clarion ways, Obama underscored the fact that, as president, he can only do so much. He needs Congress’ help in passing and enacting many of the policies, micro and macro, that he outlined in last night’s speech. Take immigration, which got its customary section in last night’s address. He hit all the predictable notes – a nod to securing the border and decreasing illegal crossings (as if all undocumented people come from Mexico), the threat of deportation that people like me face, even though we grew up in America and are American in all but papers.

As he did last year, he tied education and the economy to immigration, before saying, “Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

We’ve heard this before. Overhauling immigration was one of Obama’s top priorities upon arriving in the White House. He has not delivered. Nor has Congress. Immigration, yet again, becomes another campaign issue.

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