Votes were still coming in on Tuesday evening when ABC’s Jon Karl reported that, per White House sources, “the president will move forward with an executive order on immigration reform no matter how big a shellacking Democrats get.” The shellacking was bigger than even the most optimistic Republicans had predicted. To act on immigration without engaging the country’s new congressional majority would be a defiance of the legislative branch, and of the American electorate…
Speaking to the nation on Wednesday, President Obama announced his intention to move forward with an executive action on immigration if Congress will not pass immigration legislation he likes — so it is that, instead of “rising above politics,” as he once promised, the president has stooped to extortion.
It has long been clear that the president is not much interested in submitting to the dictates of the democratic process when he does not like the results. Republicans during the lame-duck session should pursue any measure available to them to hold the line against the president’s inclinations toward lawlessness — and to ensure that the millions of voters who rebuffed his policies on Tuesday are not ignored.
The country has shown it is in no mood for [executive amnesty]. Some examples:
Republican Senate candidates were airing about 5,000 more TV ads a week on immigration than Democrats were, one of the three policy areas with the biggest gap between ads by the parties. As Jeffrey Anderson put it, “Given this emphasis, if Republicans take the Senate, it would be hard for objective observers not to view the result as a repudiation of the Democrats on immigration, spending, and — most of all — Obamacare.”
For a Democrat, Mark Pryor used to be good on immigration and helped kill the 2007 bill. But the White House and Senate Democratic leadership basically forced him, along with other soon-to-be-unemployed red-state Dems like Landrieu, Hagan, and Begich, to vote for the 2013 Gang of Eight bill. As Mickey Kaus noted, “Schumer would probably be chairman of the lucrative Banking Committee if he hadn’t pushed his amnesty bill.”
Scott Brown was behind by double digits this summer — he was a carpetbagger, a Republican in an increasingly Democratic state, and was running against a well-liked former governor. But when he started attacking Shaheen on immigration, he closed the gap and almost pulled it off.
Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday that if President Barack Obama wants to tackle immigration in his last two years in office, he can’t do it through executive actions.
“We can’t have a circumstance in which we are going after a problem as meddlesome and potentially divisive as immigration by executive action only, this has to go through the people’s representatives,” the former secretary of state said in an interview with Brian Kilmeade of “Fox and Friends.” “That’s our system, that’s the Congress.”…
“I hope that what he plans to do is to take the message that the American people don’t like the course that we’re on and there has to be change,” Rice said. “He’s going to have to work with Republicans, not just to do the things that the president wants to do, but to do things in a bipartisan fashion that need to be done for the American people.”
In a letter to Obama [last] Thursday, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged Obama not to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants until the southern border is secure and immigration law is effectively enforced…
They further argued that if Obama takes the action that many expect him to take he would “flaunt the separation of powers and our system of checks and balances, undermine the rule of law, and frustrate the proper administration of our current immigration system.”…
“Unilateral action by the executive branch on this issue would be detrimental to finding and enacting much-needed long-term policy and legislative solutions to our broken immigration system,” they wrote. “In this regard, acting by executive order on an issue of this magnitude would be the most divisive action you could take – completely undermining any good-faith effort to meaningfully address this important issue, which would be a disservice to the needs of the American people.”
Given the GOP takeover of the Senate, I just think it’s likely that Democrats will survey the post-election landscape and have a change of heart. That probably won’t mean a complete betrayal of the promise. But instead of the kind of broad action advocates are hoping for, it’s likely that we’ll end up with something cosmetic like yet another reboot of the secure communities initiative or another effort to better explain and clarify its existing memos about priorities.
To see why, just think about the speech that the president would have given had he announced this initiative back in June. He would have said that immigration reform was a pressing problem. He would have praised the Senate for passing a bipartisan reform bill with an overwhelming majority behind it. He would have noted that the House of Representatives had refused to bring any kind of immigration legislation to the floor. He would have argued that the public was behind him, and made the humanitarian case for action, and flagged the business community’s desire for reform. He would have bemoaned Republican obstructionism. And he would have plowed ahead with a controversial expansion of executive authority.
His argument, in other words, would have been that House Republicans were obstructing something the public, the business community, and even a bipartisan majority of the Senate wanted. But can you really cry obstruction right after losing an election? Republicans are now able to claim not just that Obama was stretching his authority in a novel way, but doing so specifically to overturn an adverse result in the midterms.
Congressman Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) is warning President Obama that if he doesn’t announce amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants there could be a “civil war” in the Democrat Party…
“This problem that you see, politically, is nothing in comparison to the civil war that will be created politically in the Democratic party should the president not be broad and generous in his use of prosecutorial discretion,” Gutiérrez told the UK Guardian. “Because Latinos will not be deciding whether or not they vote, but whether or not they are in the Democratic Party.”
Gutiérrez went on to say that Obama has created a “self-inflicted” wound on the Democrat Party by breaking his earlier promises to deal with immigration. And he warned that Latinos may decide that the Democrat Party isn’t their home after all.
Latinos are perfectly aware that Obama’s failure to deliver was in no small part due to the obstructionism of a small subset of loudmouthed House Republicans. They might have forgiven him for that — except that he has removed more undocumented immigrants from the United States than even President Bush, earning the soubriquet of deporter-in-chief. Worse, he has been downright heartless in how he’s dealt with unaccompanied Latin American minors seeking asylum, pressing to deport them without even the hearing required under a Bush-era law against human trafficking.
So the only way to inspire Latinos to make the schlep to the voting booth and pull the lever for Democrats in 2016 is to make good on Obama’s promise and offer their unauthorized loved ones deportation relief. But that isn’t the only political advantage of pushing executive action.
Everyone (even Real Clear Politics’ election analyst Sean Trende, who authored a compelling series called the “missing white voters,” noting that Republicans can become more competitive by concentrating on white voters) acknowledges that Republicans will have to do better than the 27 percent Latino vote that Mitt Romney got in order to win presidential elections. At the very minimum, that will require them to back off from the kind of harsh anti-immigrant rhetoric that Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls deployed during the last primary.
But they can’t do so while raising a big stink over executive action. Making that the central issue in budget fights will rally Latinos not just to vote for Democrats — but against Republicans. It would cement Republicans’ reputation as an anti-Latino, anti-immigrant party, hurting its prospects in the long term when whites do become a mere plurality.
After this repudiation, acting on #immigration by fiat would be the political equivalent of literally flipping the country the bird.
— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) November 5, 2014