They’ve been after him for months to use his magical unilateral executive kung fu and declare a deportation moratorium for the broader illegal population, not just the DREAMers whom he amnestized before the 2012 election. And now, finally, movement.
The amnesty cometh.
The president changed course after months of claiming there was nothing his White House could do to stem the flow of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Obama announced in a meeting readout that he has requested a review of his administration’s enforcement policies for immigration laws to see if that enforcement can be done “more humanely within the confines of the law,” the White House said Thursday…
The White House made the announcement after Obama met for more than an hour Thursday evening with three leading members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus amid a furor in the Latino and immigration-rights community over the number of deportations of undocumented immigrants during his administration.
“The president emphasized his deep concern about the pain too many families feel from the separation that comes from our broken immigration system,” the White House said in a readout of the meeting…
“It is clear that the pleas from the community got through to the President,” Gutierrez said in a later statement. “The CHC will work with him to keep families together. The President clearly expressed the heartbreak he feels because of the devastating effect that deportations have on families.”
Gutierrez, whose only loyalty is to the immigrant community, not to the Democrats, had taken to calling O the “deporter-in-chief” lately in order to twist his arm on this. He didn’t understand why, if Obama can rewrite the law on ObamaCare, he couldn’t summarily rewrite it for deportations too. That’s a completely predictable reaction to executive overreach: The more the president claims a unilateral right to upend the law on behalf of one constituent group, the more other constituent groups will demand similar favors. Power grabs become one more goodie in the federal bag to distribute to special interests.
What now? BuzzFeed looks ahead:
A source close to the CHC said members have their own reservations about what stopping deportations might mean. They say if Obama suspends deportations then it would give Republicans more ammunition to float impeachment, which brings them no closer to comprehensive immigration legislation.
“Let them try to impeach him, who gives a shit?” the source said. “They would be voting to impeach the president for helping the families of undocumented veterans.”
Silver lining: Obama’s not going to proclaim some sort of executive amnesty for illegals unless he’s completely given up on the GOP passing anything this year. It’d be a slap in the face after Boehner’s warnings that the House caucus doesn’t trust him to enforce the law faithfully, essentially a confirmation that they were right. Maybe this “review” he’s ordering is just a bluff to see if Boehner will panic and start moving on immigration again — or, failing that, maybe it’ll bait Republican border hawks into attacking O for it, which might at least get Gutierrez and Latino media off his back. I think he’ll wait to act on this even if he makes up his mind now to do it, just because there’ll be more bang for his buck later. Latino voters won’t save Democrats in the midterms but they could be a boost for them in a higher-turnout election like 2016. If O’s planning an amnesty, he’ll keep it in his pocket and then unveil it next year or in 2016, when the stakes are higher and the rewards bigger.