In case you missed it in Headlines last night, here you go. I know I speak for all of us in saying I’m grateful to live in a country where the national legislature no longer poses an obstacle to our president’s very important agenda.
In a better America, this is an impeachable offense. It’s a gross affront to separation of powers and it’s a nightmare precedent for executive lawmaking, one that liberals will regret once a Republican president is wielding it. In the America we live in, though, most voters don’t care about separation of powers — in fact, most voters can’t even name the three branches whose powers are supposed to be separated. Many members of Congress don’t care about separation of powers anymore either: We’ve reached the point of this fiasco where liberals in the House are now begging Obama to usurp their legislative authority. And so, if you’re a House Republican, what do you do? Impeach O, knowing there’s nowhere close to 67 votes to convict in the Senate, and watch Obama’s power grab be rewarded with four more years for Democrats in the White House when there’s a backlash in 2016? Or sit on your hands, work hard to win two years from now, and hope O’s Republican successor has the balls to rescind the order?
Amnesty’s not the only part of Obama’s order; he’ll also announce a few new border security measures, pay hikes for the Border Patrol, etc, to give himself a bit of political cover with independents. But obviously amnesty is the meat of it.
The plan calls for expanding deferred action for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children — but also for the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.
The latter could allow upwards of 4.5 million illegal immigrant adults with U.S.-born children to stay, according to estimates.
Critics in the Senate say those who receive deferred action, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, receive work authorization in the United States, Social Security numbers and government-issued IDs.
Another portion that is sure to cause consternation among anti-“amnesty” lawmakers is a plan to expand deferred action for young people. In June 2012, Obama created such a program for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, entered before June 2007 and were under 31 as of June 2012. The change would expand that to cover anyone who entered before they were 16, and change the cut-off from June 2007 to Jan. 1, 2010. This is estimated to make nearly 300,000 illegal immigrants eligible.
That number is, not surprisingly, in the mid-range of options on the table. Amnesty fans feared he’d go small by legalizing three million people or fewer; House progressives wanted him to legalize seven million or more. (They wanted him to broaden DACA farther than he’s apparently willing to.) In the end he went for the middle ground, no doubt so that he can spin this at the big announcement press conference as a relatively modest unconstitutional power grab, far less expansive than the most lunatic open-borders fans in his base demanded. The most interesting part, arguably, is the timing. Fox claims that he could unveil this as soon as next Friday, which seems … inexplicable, and contradicts what he said on Sunday about giving Boehner until the end of the year to pass a bill of his own. For starters, if O’s looking to do this as a Friday news dump when no one’s watching, he’s better off doing it on the Friday after Thanksgiving (or the Wednesday before), not on November 21st. More than that, though, I thought the whole point of waiting until the end of the year was to give Mary Landrieu a fighting chance in the December Senate runoff in Louisiana. She’s pandering her heart out this week to try to get Keystone passed, hoping against hope that conservatives back home will be grateful enough to give her one more term. And now here’s Obama, ready to drop a nuclear bomb on her campaign by ordering amnesty before the runoff? Either Fox’s timetable is wrong or O’s decided Democrats don’t need that extra Senate seat anymore anyway. Bye bye, Mary.
There’s another reason why the timetable doesn’t make sense. Isn’t there a rather important deadline coming up?
More than 50 House lawmakers have signed a letter saying that language barring the president from acting alone [on immigration] should be attached to legislation needed to keep the government operating after Dec. 11, when its current funding expires…
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R., Ky.) said it would be unrealistic to expect the president would sign a spending bill that included the immigration language.
“I don’t want a shutdown,” he said. “You should not take a hostage that you can’t shoot.”
Waiting until the end of the year to order amnesty would give Boehner and McConnell a chance to convince Republicans not to insert language defunding new amnesty measures into the broader government funding resolution due by December 11th. If Obama hasn’t actually ordered anything yet, there’s no reason to preemptively defund it and risk angering Latino voters. Better to fund the government on time, see if he ends up issuing the order after all, and then deal with it. The virtue of that approach for Boehner and McConnell, of course, is that it would avoid the possibility of a shutdown: If they passed a government funding bill with the amnesty language in there and O vetoed it, we’d have a standoff like we had in October 2013. If Fox is right, though, that Obama’s now thinking of moving before the December 11th deadline then we’re all but guaranteed to have that standoff anyway. He’ll issue the order, congressional Republicans will be enraged, they’ll demand that the amnesty defunding language be inserted, Obama will veto the funding bill, and then we’ll have a lame-duck game of chicken over a December shutdown. I can only assume that’s the outcome Obama wants here if the Fox timetable is true. Maybe he thinks it’s worth blowing up Landrieu’s campaign by acting early in order to force Boehner and McConnell into a war with their own caucus before the new Republican Congress is seated in January. That’ll create deep divisions among Republicans at a moment when they’re trying to unify behind an agenda. And if Boehner and McConnell end up caving to the tea partiers and standing firm on the amnesty defunding language, that’s okay for Obama too. It’ll mean a shutdown, and Democrats usually win those battles politically. They’ll almost certainly win this one among Latinos, which is the bloc they really care about ahead of 2016.
Speaking of which, read this short but smart NBC piece about why Democrats are gung ho for O to pull the trigger on executive amnesty. It’s not just because they don’t give a wet shinola about separation of powers. It’s because the decision to continue or rescind this amnesty would end up being a key issue in the 2016 campaign. Hillary will promise to continue it; what will Rubio or Paul or Walker or Cruz promise, with Latino voters watching closely?
Update: It’s on.
Asserting his authority as president to enforce the nation’s laws with discretion, Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away.
That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.
Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces.
You want to read something truly pathetic? Here you go. That’s where we are right now.