White House: By the way, we're still planning an amnesty this summer for illegals who are already here

Gotta hand it to ’em: They’re all-in on the immigration mega-pander. The prudent thing to do before the midterms would be to focus on stopping the border crisis, to “prove” that Obama’s serious about enforcement before a new push at comprehensive reform next year, and then do some sort of very limited amnesty to show immigration activists that O’s on their side with the promise of more to come after the current uproar has quieted down.

Instead you’ve got Harry Reid mumbling about the border being secure, Pelosi doing her “won’t somebody think of the children?” shtick, and now Obama’s inner circle whispering that it’s full speed ahead on DACA 2.0. And not only do they still intend to go forward, apparently they’re going to tell the public that they’re doing it because of the border crisis. Turns out a massive influx of illegals requires us to … effectively amnestize many other illegals.

Imagine that.

In the days leading up to the Rose Garden speech [on June 30th], there were discussions in the West Wing about the impact that the border crisis might have on the president’s promise to use his executive authority. White House officials said they decided that while the border emergency presented a considerable public relations problem, it should not get in the way of action later this summer. In the weeks since those meetings, the crisis in the Rio Grande Valley along the border has ballooned into round-the-clock cable television fare and constant fodder for Mr. Obama’s opponents in Congress.

“Republicans have decided to use the Rio Grande as a reason not to do immigration reform. We won’t,” said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. “Our belief is that now, more than ever, the American people see immigration as an urgent issue and want the administration to act to address the problem of a broken system.”

White House officials, without providing specifics, said the most likely executive actions that Mr. Obama will announce at the end of the summer were consistent with the administration’s efforts to move away from deporting unauthorized immigrants who have been in the country for years and have not otherwise broken the law.

Officials said the current crisis on the border fit that approach. By shifting resources away from long-established families, they said, law enforcement can better focus on processing the asylum claims of recent immigrants and deporting those who do not qualify to stay in the United States — a rationale that Peter J. Spiro, an immigration specialist at Temple University Law School, said had long been the basis of the nation’s current immigration system.

We need to forget about deporting illegal immigrants who’ve been here for years so that we can focus on deporting illegals who’ve just gotten here, whom Democrats … also don’t want to deport. Maybe that’s why Pelosi and Reid are suddenly interested in blocking changes to the 2008 child-trafficking law. Republicans won’t agree to give O the $3.7 billion he asked for unless Democrats agree to change that statute — but maybe it’s better politically for Obama at this point if he doesn’t get the money. Then he can say, since he’s forced to make due with the immigration enforcement assets he already has, that he has no choice but to issue a moratorium on deportations for everyone who’s already here and focus instead on ending the border crisis. And if he’s going to take unilateral action on amnesty, maybe for political reasons he’d prefer to take unilateral action on deporting kids from Central America too, without a congressional fix to the child-trafficking law. (The NYT story quoted above says the White House is looking at what he can do with executive action to speed up the deportations.) It’ll be easier to sell one to the public if you can package it with the other. And if immigration activists get mad at him, that’s okay. He’s a lame duck; as long as they’re not mad at congressional Dems, who are in full pander mode right now, he’s fine with it.

But what about the public generally? New from Pew:


Majorities of Republicans and independents want deportations of young illegals sped up, and even Democrats are narrowly split. That’s why O might take executive action even if Reid and Pelosi oppose changing the statute. But before you celebrate Democrats losing the battle of public opinion, click the Pew link and look at the second data set on the page. Even now, 54 percent of Republicans and 70 percent of independents think illegals who are already here should have some mechanism for staying in the U.S. legally. A mass amnesty may not be the political loser it feels like at the moment given all the attention being paid to the border crisis. In fact, if O goes ahead with it, Democrats may end up as political winners this fall even if they lose the Senate. Depending upon how narrow the GOP’s margin is at the polls and how large immigration looms at the time, it may be that an executive amnesty doesn’t much hurt the Democrats at all. They might end up with fewer than 50 seats, but everyone expected that anyway. The fear in the White House is that doing something aggressive on immigration will lead to a GOP rout; if Obama goes ahead with it and the rout doesn’t happen, the takeaway will be that the public’s more complacent about amnesty these days than it used to be. Which means, against all odds, comprehensive immigration reform might be back on the table next year.

Via the Corner, here’s Joe Biden inadvertently admitting that Obama’s failed to bring about the “change” he promised in 2008. For now, perhaps.

Raises the stakes — referendum on immigration