Why undocumented immigrants aren’t ready for American prime time

Imagine if they’d had television in the days of Wyatt Earp: Would the networks have broadcast the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral live if they…
Why undocumented immigrants aren’t ready for American prime time

CNN and the other cable news networks are expected to carry President Barack Obama’s announcement of his executive orders on immigration reform, but the big four English-speaking over the air networks won’t be breaking into programming for the announcement. (Michael Newman/Flickr)

Imagine if they’d had television in the days of Wyatt Earp: Would the networks have broadcast the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral live if they had known about it?

You can bet all of Tombstone, Arizona, they would have.

SEE ALSO: Attorneys overwhelmed on eve of immigration announcement

Welcome then to modern day Tombstone, the wild west of the United States, just weeks after the bad-blood election that eroded presidential gunslinger Barack Obama’s political power down to his knuckles – leading him to swagger and challenge the contentious and unruly GOP gang to one last fight.

The political gunfight at la migra corral starts tonight.

In a prime-time address, President Obama will outline his executive actions on immigration that are bound to serve as the first shots in his fight with the future Republican controlled Congress over the last two years of his administration.

And, hard as it is to believe, the major networks – ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC – won’t be broadcasting the address live.

They have had notice to prepare for it, but curiously the White House didn’t officially ask for primetime coverage from the networks. Perhaps White House officials thought cable news networks and the Spanish language giants Univision and Telemundo would do an adequate job.

Sweeps vs. politics

But this is the ever-important sweeps month for the networks, who might have chosen to politely turn down the request from a surprisingly unpopular and divisive president, instead of breaking into their ratings-rich programming.

The upshot of that is that after losing the Senate to the Republicans on Election Day wasn’t bad enough, Obama now goes down in history having being trumped by “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Biggest Loser” and “Bones.”

Perhaps it’s just that the big shots at the networks, like the rest of America, are tired of the petty politics that have consumed Washington in the first six years of the Obama presidency and mired any significant change to virtually nothing.

They could also feel that way about the exhausting debate over immigration reform. They may look at the statistics and figure that while immigration directly affects 11 million undocumented residents, that’s a small part of the nation’s 300 million-plus population, not to mention predominantly Spanish-speaking viewers not likely to be watching English television network programming.

Is immigration a true priority?

Polls and surveys have also offered mixed views of just where immigration ranks in importance among the overwhelming number of Latinos who are U.S. citizens and whose increasingly changing voting patterns raise new questions about the solidarity of Hispanic support for immigration reform.

But the biggest source for network executives to conclude that immigration reform isn’t really of the highest priority to this White House is none other than President Obama himself.

His long history of breaking promises to Latinos on immigration reform would have made him a pariah among Jewish voters, for instance, had he broken on promises to them about the Middle East. Latinos, though, seemingly have remained as faithful and hopeful as Job.

To recap: Obama promised immigration reform in the 2008 presidential campaign, then put it off through his first term and broke more promises through his 2012 re-election campaign leading into this year’s mid-term elections.

Barack Obama

President Obama released an online video from the White House on Wednesday announcing his executive action. (Screenshot/White House)

All this time, the Obama administration deported more illegal immigrants than any presidency in the country’s history.

The executive actions that Obama will announce Thursday night are essentially more of what he had promised this summer, which he then delayed until after the midterm election, considering his unpopularity threatened the chances of re-election for Democrats in the Senate and House.

Broken promises on immigration reform

This long history of carrot and stick trickery on immigration reform hasn’t just been obvious to Latinos–a group who has grown increasingly frustrated. It’s been witnessed by an American and international public, who can make their own conclusions going forth on how far you can lie and deceive the biggest ethnic group in this country. Obama did it without much serious consequences, so long as you continue convincing Latinos that you are the only option available to them.

How the Democratic Party has kept its hold on the large segment of Latino voters without giving them much to speak of may one day go down as the greatest example of salesmanship since P.T. Barnum.

Too little, too late

Now what should be even more infuriating to Latinos is that the executive action the president plans to outline, according to reports, will be the most bare bones of immigration overhauls imaginable, protecting only up to five million undocumented immigrants from deportation and providing many of them with permits to work legally in the United States.

But it leaves six million others unprotected, apparently even the illegal immigrant parents of American-born children.

This is just the first shot in the political gunfight at la migra corral, but it’s likely to have the same inconclusive result as the famous Gunfight at the O.K. Corral ,which did not end the conflict between the Earp brothers and the Clanton gang but led to more violent bloodshed.

Republicans have vowed to a quick and powerful response when they officially take over Congress next year, which could include using Obama’s immigration executive actions to shut down the government or to seek his impeachment.

SEE ALSO: Where Obamacare and immigration reform collide

Sadly, when the smoke has cleared, the only real victims are likely to be those politically unwanted, undocumented immigrants who have become the sacrificial pawns in this president’s desperate attempt to save his legacy while claiming unconvincingly to being their last best hope for the American Dream.

None of which the major networks are likely to broadcast live either.